Jackie Wullschlager went to Scotland’s exhibition of Impressionist gardens for the Financial Times and got a lesson in how Impressionism was picked up and interpreted around the world:
[P]arallel stories tell how French impressionism was exported, then transformed by national characteristics. The Germans, who loved Manet – a version of his “The House at Rueil”, very influential in Berlin, is here – tended to favour sober greens and disciplined compositions, as in the geometric lawns and ordered paths of Max Liebermann’s “The Artist’s Granddaughter with her Governess in the Wannsee Garden”. In Spain, by contrast, Joaquin Sorolla developed a vibrant variation of the movement called luminism, concentrated on extreme contrasts of bright light and shadow.
American impressionists were yet more high glare: Childe Hassam’s “Geraniums”, Mary Fairchild MacMonnnies’ mother and daughter in “Roses and Lilies”, Charles Courtney Curran’s “Lotus Lilies”, set on an Ohio estuary and showing his bride on a boat haloed like a saint by giant lotus flowers with sunlight shining through the petals. The result resembles a symbolist fantasy, but the American lotus is indeed luminescent yellow, more than a foot wide and with stems rising to three feet – an outsize North American equivalent to the water lilies Monet was then cultivating.
Meanwhile, as a diluted form of impressionism spread internationally, the pioneers upped their game. The single truly great room here, set apart from the rest, is the final one, and it is worth a trip to Edinburgh in itself. With the exception of “Resting in the Garden”, a flickering dreamy Bonnard painted on the eve of the first world war in the style of an antique frieze, the 11 works here were created in the last years of each artist’s life, and every one represents both a peak of his achievement and a profound internalisation of nature.
In the Garden with Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne (Financial Times)