Painters’ Paintings 

Running until 04 September 2016 at the The National Gallery, London.

One of the most fascinating art exhibitions this summer is undoubtedly, Painters Paintings because it explores the formerly private collections of Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse and Anthony van Dyck. These are painters, who procured paintings of fellow painters, to keep privately for a myriad of reasons, such as to demonstrate their status quo as artists, or to feel inspired by.

The exhibition features more than eighty paintings, which by themselves have a history of older than 500 years. The most intriguing story behind this exhibition has been that a portrait by Paul Cézanne, titled “Three Bathers”, was in possession of Matisse: I find it
intriguing because Cézanne, who was a big fan of Renaissance painters, like Michelangelo, and faced discomfort at the thought of painting a female model, chose to paint three bathers – a redhead, a blonde and a dark-haired woman, in a scene of quivering trees.

Henri could ill afford the painting by Cézanne he purchased in Paris in 1889 but it was still a big inspiration for thirty-seven long years to the French artist. The painting has been able to sustain Henri in a principled-angle during some of his hardest times, and it has also invoked his conviction and his determination. In fact, this is a regular occurrence amongst painters – they liked to learn from the paintings they own, they liked to also teach others from their personal collection of artworks, and savagely attempt to match their own works with celebrated works before them.

Competition in the artistic world is always intense, so this sneaky piece of news that painters owned their rivals’ work to stave off struggles, is very interesting to learn of,
particularly for Matisse, whose biggest rival was probably Pablo Picasso. Picasso and Matisse would often trade their paintings to see how well they are faring against their own personal competition, with each other. Meanwhile, as the exhibition demonstrates, van Dyck, chose to include in his personal collection, Titian, while the English painter, Joshua Reynolds, had chosen Thomas Gainsborough and Rembrandt.


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