Vibrancy, colour, vitality, yet an oasis of scenes of serenity and peace. That’s the first impression I gained as soon as I entered this exhibition. You could almost be forgiven for thinking you could smell and touch the amazing displays of artistic prettiness, your indulgences only interrupted by the tramping of thousands of feet flattening and laying bare the surely rich lush grass on the RA’s gallery floors.
This is not an art exhibition in the traditional sense. There’s no avant-garde, no ‘isms’, no individual artist on display, no angst, drama or socio-economic, politico-religious commentary. It is simply an exhibition of many artists’ love of their gardens. Nothing more, nothing less.
As with all good horticultural catalogues, you stroll through a garden path enjoying the company of Manet, Monet, Morisot, Renoir and even Pissarro and onto Van Gogh through to John Singer Sergeant and Emil Nolde as well knowns and discover Tissot, Bunker and Sidaner and many more.
Always a visual feast, a sensuous experience: the love of colour, nature and fecundity without exception, in rich abundance. Being so invitingly drawn in to the images, I even felt myself looking down at my wet feet in the Monet ‘Water Lilies’ galleries.
Well done the RA for moving away from the sensationalism and commercialisation of individual artists and movements. Whilst obviously market forces were behind this idea, the exhibition is a delight of aesthetic realism, simply providing pleasure and comfort with no pretence at anything else.
A timely intervention in these complicated and rather dreary days.