For the first time in over 40 years, the British Museum presents a major display of its collection of French prints, one of the best collections of its kind in the world. The exhibition entitled French Impressions: Prints from Manet to Cézanne, features nearly 80 important works by artists including Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec. The exhibition covers the last four decades of the 19th century and includes rarely seen artworks by some of France’s most famous artists.
The period from 1860 to 1900 in France was one of great creative and artistic activity, many artists produced what are now considered some of the world’s most famous paintings. Part of this artistic revolution was the creation of prints, many by celebrated artists from this time who used printmaking to experiment with often radical approaches producing some of their most unusual and unique compositions.
The exhibition also examines the role of illustrated print journals that proliferated in the 1890s, and how these first helped establish the reputation of many French artists. On show will be a selection of prints from the hugely influential La Revue Blanche (acquired by the British Museum in 2018 and on display for the first time) as well as other significant artworks from L’Estampe Originale and L’Estampe Moderne.
Highlights of the exhibition include Les Baigneurs (grande planchet) by Cézanne, one of only 8 prints ever made by the artist.
Other works include two examples of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s colourful prints of actresses and Parisian music-hall stars.
There are unusual works by Gauguin and Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro has a series of prints included.
The last time the British Museum exhibited its French prints collection on this scale was in 1978, this exhibition provides a much more varied selection of works including works from female artists such as Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt and Suzanne Valadon.
This attractive and interesting free exhibition is a reminder of how the artistic revolution in France from 1860 to 1900 changed the art world, whilst many people now enjoy this type of art, it was not always the case. Prints provided an opportunity for artists to be radical and creative showing their work to a mass audience, this extensive display captures the spirit of the time when anything artistic seemed possible.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here
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