French Trip to London
The Year 13 French students embarked on a trip to London to visit both The Courtauld Institute and The National Gallery to study impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. We attended guided talks at each gallery, both of which were given in French. This enabled us to broaden our vocabulary and learn new specific art terminology, such as ‘le pointillisme,’ ‘le pinceau’ et ‘la toile.’ During our morning at the Courtauld Gallery, we gazed in awe at the works of the iconic impressionists, including Seurat, Van Gogh, Renoir and Monet and we focussed our discussion towards specific paintings with the help of our guide. Édouard Manet’s masterpiece ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’ was a key feature of the talk, as we observed how Manet had created a sense of isolation through the contrast between the rough, bustling atmosphere in the mirror’s reflection, and the detailed, detached expression of the bar maid. This was emphasised through the variation in brush strokes. Critics of the late 19th century found Manet’s representation of contemporary Paris unsettling as it captured the darker aspects of Parisian society.
At The National Gallery, our talk was based around the origins of impressionism and the specific artworks which influenced the world famous impressionist paintings. We focused on the relationship between the work of William Turner and Claude Lorrain. When observing Claude’s work, one is struck by the vast scale of his paintings consisting of peachy glowing skies stretching behind exquisitely detailed landscapes. Turner’s works appear to be an abstracted form of Claude’s detailed compositions, where he exaggerates texture and colour to create these strong, emotive paintings which gave him the nickname, ‘The Painter of Light’.
To maintain the French flavour of the day, we had a delicious lunch at Café Rouge in Covent garden, where we were served by French waitresses which encouraged our French conversation. We were sad when told it was time to get the train back to Oxford, as we had enjoyed being immersed in French culture in the busy and exciting atmosphere of London. C’était une expérience formidable, merci aux profs!
Eve – 13O