Upon arriving I was faced with a somewhat daunting queue to get tickets, which turned out to be a roughly 2 hour wait because apparently I was not the only one who wanted to see the exhibition that day.
The exhibition highlighted the similarities and differences between the styles of famous Impressionist painters- Monet being heavily featured, alongside Manet, Pissarro, Caillebotte, Renoir, Kandinsky and others (surprisingly little Matisse, however). It also gave prominence to the development and progression of Impressionism, chronologically displaying paintings that presented the fluidity and interchangeability of the style's evolution.
The painting on the left side of the photo, by Manet, was one that I liked a lot. Manet's manipulation of the textures of the paint helped to bring to life the people and greenery of the scene. I liked the composition and colours- vividly dreamlike, yet realistic, calm yet energetic.
I feel that with Impressionism, there needs to be a balance between the omission of detail and the definition of form, and the ability to find that balance is what defines the masters of Impressionism from those who merely followed their precedents. Impressionism focuses on the depiction of light, colour and the passage of time in a way that seems distanced from the scene. However I found that some particular pieces seemed almost unfinished, flat or almost lifeless despite a sense of shading, the colour use seemed to lack finesse, and the application of light awkward or confusing. But maybe that's just me.
A little off topic but anyways...
Monet's water lilies paintings changed the face of Impressionism, as he diverted the focus from the usual- seaside views, garden landscapes, women at picnics in the French countryside- and brought in a new point of view. Instead of the 'onlooker-view', 'splice of life' style that most Impressionists at the time were accustomed to, Monet's water lilies immersed the viewers in a way that made them feel like they were face to face with the lily ponds themselves. The soft lavenders, moss greens, cream and gentle jewel tones of the water were breath-taking, and despite being 75% smaller than initially intended, the 42ft long piece was immensely captivating.
The exhibition is open at the Royal Academy of Arts until April 2016, and I do recommend a visit- even if just for Monet's masterpiece at the end.