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Impression
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The Independent Online

As art movements go, Impressionism is probably the one which gives more people more pleasure more of the time than any other. As such, it has long been appropriated by mass culture: the standard stuff of gallery gift shops, not to mention chocolate boxes. It has the kind of public popularity that sometimes makes it hard to take seriously in art historical terms, so it's good to see an exhibition going back to where it all began. Technique, in other words, as the title of this major survey so clearly states: "Impression: Painting Quickly in France 1860-1890".

As art movements go, Impressionism is probably the one which gives more people more pleasure more of the time than any other. As such, it has long been appropriated by mass culture: the standard stuff of gallery gift shops, not to mention chocolate boxes. It has the kind of public popularity that sometimes makes it hard to take seriously in art historical terms, so it's good to see an exhibition going back to where it all began. Technique, in other words, as the title of this major survey so clearly states: "Impression: Painting Quickly in France 1860-1890".

The National Gallery's end of year show is a celebration of plein airism and rapidity, starting with Manet's brilliant oil sketches and continuing with the work of Monet, Renoir, Morisot, Sisley, Pisarro and Van Gogh. The selection encourages a fresh look at some very familiar paintings and brings to light some little known gems from private collections around the world. It's worth going just to see Manet's Racecourse at Longchamps, on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, though the other 59 paintings are well worth a look while you're there.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2 (020-7747 2885) 1 Nov to 28 Jan

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