Mention ‘impressionism’ and the ears of a million grey-haired ladies across the Home Counties prick up. Coach parties are organised, lunch dates diarised and crowds descend. I got there ten minutes after opening time and this exhibition was already so packed you couldn’t see some of the exhibits.
Still, it’s a hugely enjoyable show, a chocolate box full of old favourites and new wonders, many loaned from private collections and so only available to view this once.
Into the eight and a bit rooms of the downstairs exhibition space at Tate Britain the curators have managed to pack about four different themes or ideas into one space, a good deal of which – maybe half – has nothing at all to do with impressionism.
First there’s a room entirely about the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), linking on to one about the early experiences of the French painters who fled to England.
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