Le Printemps, an oil painting by French Impressionist artist Manet, sold for a record price of $65.1million at auction last week. The successful sale of the oil painting was explained by a current high level of interest in French Impressionist art.
Impressionist painters challenged the normal, highly detailed paintings of the early 1800’s. The traditional style involved months of detailed studio painting, which resulted in an image that showed an idealised precision. The impressionists work was mostly painted outside, using quick brush strokes and bright colours to capture the effects of light on a scene.
Artists would often repaint the same scene time and time again, to show the effects of light at different times of day. At the time the impressionist paintings weren’t appreciated by the general public, who felt they lacked artistic merit and disliked the gaudy colours. Over time views have changed and now there is a wide spread interest in impressionist art.
The interesting aspect of impressionist art is that as well as being able to visit an art gallery to see the paintings, it is also possible to visit some of the many scenes of the French countryside where the images were captured. Much of rural France has remained largely unchanged since the artists selected the view for their painting over 130 years ago.
Some environments, such as Monet’s garden in Giverny have been preserved, so visitors can view the lily pond, its bridges and surroundings from the same angles and perspective as the artist. Other sites may have changed over time, but still hold the essence of light and life that the artists aimed to capture.
Pont Aven in the Finistere region of Brittany is one such example. This town brought together impressionist painters including Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard and Paul Serusier who set up the Pont Aven Art School. Whilst the town isn’t stuck in history, many of the scenes that appealed can still be visited.
Pont Aven was a mill town and the watermills were one of the popular subject matters. Although no longer operational, the buildings still exists including Moulin Poulguin. Life on the river was also captured in many Pont Aven paintings, as were views of the town from the beech wood, Bois d’Amour, which can still be enjoyed.
If your ideal holiday destination would include some artistic inspiration, Pont Aven is a day trip from La Foret, our campsite in Brittany. See the sites, visit the permanent collection of art by the Pont Aven Art School and leave ready to capture your own snapshots of your French holiday.
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