First impressions

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The Independent Culture
In 1874 the first Impressionist exhibition opened in Paris, heralding the advent of a new way of seeing. We all know what happened next: Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Cezanne make a familiar litany to generations brought up on reproductions of poppy fields and haystacks. But what of their contemporaries? As the Impressionists have become increasingly familiar, so the work of the old guard against which they rebelled has fallen further into neglect. A new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery promises to redress the balance. Alongside works by the leading Impressionists hang the paintings you would have seen at the Paris Salon between 1863 and 1890. The Barbizon school, so important to the development of Impressionism, is still evident in the work of Daubigny and Corot, but this is largely an opportunity to rediscover lesser-known artists. Here are such once-familiar names as Jules Noel, Charles-Jules-Nestor Bavoux and Franois-Louis Franais: the crowd pullers of late 19th-century Paris. While it is poignant that the reason for their presence should be to highlight the superiority of their rivals, this exhibition teaches a number of invaluable lessons, not least how much the Impressionist's success depended upon the emergence of the private collector and the commercial gallery.

'Landscapes of France', Hayward Gallery, South Bank SE1 (0171-928 8800) from 18 May