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Trip to the National Gallery

On Wednesday, year 8 and sixth-form art historians were treated to a trip to the National Gallery, where they enjoyed two exhibits.

Before visiting the Gauguin exhibition, we went to the permanent nineteenth-century exhibitions. The impressionists and realists of both France and Britain were the focus of the rooms. Their work allowed the girls to see both the academic tradition and its rejection by the artists of the day.

With these Salon and Salon de Refuses works in mind, the Gauguin exhibition was magical and uplifting! Surprise after surprise in these rooms filled with glorious colour, made even more striking by the dour November weather outside. It was a fantastically curated exhibition, with works spanning his temporal and physical existence, from Paris, Brittany, Arles, and the South Seas, and including images of the women, children, and cultures key to Gauguin’s life. As a self-taught artist, his works are not concerned with the academic tradition, but with the psychological engagement and relationship with his subject, with evoking colours, smells, and the full sensual experiences he witnessed throughout his life. The final self-portrait showed a man who had lived – and would die – by the power of his imagination, his worldly experiences literally wearing him out.

Here is Sophie’s account of the day:

“In the first exhibit, we compared British and French art from different sections of the exhibit. We took notes on the artworks – the names, descriptions, and what we liked about them. We chose four pieces that interested us, like portraits and landscapes, and drew two of these four.

One of the paintings I liked was ‘Young Christian girl’ by Paul Gauguin. I thought this painting had such bold colours: the girl was wearing a neon yellow dress and the background was filled with cool blue colours that contrasted well with her yellow dress. It was a particularly eye-catching piece.”