The Great Outdoors The Impressionists: Painting and Revolution


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The Great Outdoors

Waldemar Januszczak continues his investigation of the Impressionists by taking us outdoors to their most famous locations.


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# And it hardly looked like a novel at all

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# And the city treats me, it treats me to you

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# And a cup of coffee for you

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# I should learn its language and speak it to you

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# And 70 million should be in the know

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# And 70 million don't go out at all

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# And 70 million wouldn't walk this street

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# And 70 million would run to a hole

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# And 70 million would be wrong wrong wrong

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# And 70 million never see it at all

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# And 70 million haven't tasted snow. #

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If I asked you what the Impressionists were best known for,

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you'd probably say, "For painting outdoors."

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And you'd be right.

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Who doesn't love Monet's delightful fields of poppies,

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with their unmissable smell of the summer?

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Or those dreamy water lilies of his?

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So delicate, so thoughtful.

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Or his sunny moments by the river,

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with their perfectly captured weather?

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It's as if Monet's art

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hasn't got a care in the world.

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Everything in it is relaxed, sleepy...

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..happy.

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Renoir's the same.

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All those gorgeous scenes of dancing...

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..and lunching at Bougival.

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Pretty girls flirting...

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..and jumping on swings with the handsomest chap in the restaurant.

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Pissarro's the same.

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Fields of golden corn,

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sunny orchards,

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happy peasants, merrily at work in the fields.

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Even when he paints the winter, he makes the cold look so welcoming.

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All these famous Impressionist images will be very familiar to you.

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You've seen them before on chocolate boxes

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and the postcards people send you from Paris.

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And even if you don't recognise the actual pictures,

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you'll certainly know their mood.

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That relaxed, optimistic, typical mood of Impressionism.

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So naturally you're going to assume that achieving these pleasing moods was pleasant as well

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and that the life of the Impressionists was relaxing and contented.

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And that's where you'd be wrong.

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Very wrong. Because the outdoor art of the Impressionists,

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their most famous contribution to painting,

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the stuff we all know and love...

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..was a bitch to paint.

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Achieving that pleasant sense of outdoor relaxation...

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..was so much harder than it looks.

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In the last film, we saw the Impressionists come together

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for their first show, in 1874.

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Over the next decade they had seven more exhibitions.

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That's eight shows in all, eight shows that changed art.

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And from the beginning, they wanted to paint outdoors.

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To paint what they could see, what was really there.

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In Monet's case, that usually involved water.

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Monet spent his entire life living next to water.

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It was as if he was born with two umbilical cords,

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one connected to his mother, the other connected to the Seine.

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It started in Paris, where he was born in 1840,

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and where the Seine is all twisty and urban.

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In Le Havre, where he grew up, the river pours itself into the Atlantic

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in a messy industrial puddle full of elusive glimmers and shimmers.

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His final days, of course,

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were spent here at Giverny by his famous lily pond,

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which he created from scratch,

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specifically to paint the water from every angle,

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with every watery nuance.

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So the whole of Monet's life was spent by the water,

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and water was the main obsession of his art as well.

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This was just a bog when he got here.

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All this had to be created.

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But it was worth it because it brought him closer to this stuff.

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The problem with painting water, the difficulty, the challenge,

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is that it's constantly changing.

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Everything affects it.

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Every moment is different.

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Water...

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..is sort of there and sort of not there.

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I mean, how do you paint...

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that?

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Monet's answer was to get right on top of it, as close as he could.

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To live it, breathe it, all day long

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in a special boat he had built for himself, a floating studio,

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custom-made for exploring the river.

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We know exactly what it looked like, because he was painted working on it

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by his fellow boat lover, Edouard Manet.

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Manet himself never became a proper Impressionist,

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but he shared many of Monet's Impressionist ambitions,

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as well as most of the consonants in his name.

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Manet and Monet were always getting confused.

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Manet shows Monet painting the Seine at Argenteuil,

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just up the river from central Paris.

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He's in his special boat, hard at work,

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dressed from head to toe in impeccable white boating gear.

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Not, you'd have thought, the most practical clothes to work in,

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but Monet was a bit of a dandy.

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He had all his shirts hand-made

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and was famous for his frills and his cuffs.

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Besides, on every French river,

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the rowers were obliged to wear a different colour.

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Here on the Seine, they had to wear white.

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There's something of the Hercule Poirot about him, don't you think?

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The neat little dandy dabbing away tidily at his view of the Seine.

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And if you look at the back of the boat, in the cosy home-made cabin,

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you'll find Monet's wife, Camille,

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stored away neatly like a useful sack of provisions.

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Camille would sit placidly at the back of the boat,

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singing for Monet, feeding him, organising his picnics.

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I bet they had other kinds of fun as well

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in that cosy-looking floating love-nest of theirs.

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In his earlier years, when he was still trying to make it the official way, Monet painted Camille

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in a gorgeous green dress and sent his portrait to the Salon,

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where, not surprisingly, it was a big hit.

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It's not a revolutionary image

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or a painting that does anything very new.

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But it does show how talented he was

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and how much he liked clothes.

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So does this other famous portrait of Camille,

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in a blonde wig would you believe, done up as a Japanese geisha.

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Is this really the same sack of provisions at the back of the boat?

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Amazingly, yes, it is.

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Including your lovers in your art like this, painting your family,

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your girlfriends, dressing them up, was new.

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Michelangelo would never have done it, or Turner,

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or any of the posh predecessors of the Impressionists.

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But the Impressionists were trying to be true to life,

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to paint things as they were,

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to make everyday life a suitable subject for art.

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Besides, when they started out, most of them were famously poor.

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They couldn't afford other models.

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Camille cost nothing

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and for Monet, one of the attractions of the river, I suggest,

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one of the chief reasons he kept coming back here

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to watch the paddling and the people,

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is that the river, too, was free.

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TRAIN WHISTLES BLASTS

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Mind you, boating across France

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to reach all the landscapes they wanted to paint

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would have taken the Impressionists many lifetimes,

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and that's where the train comes in.

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The French were actually very slow to take up train travel.

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Water was more their thing.

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They'd just engineered themselves

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the best canal system in the world,

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connecting the Mediterranean to the Atlantic,

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the north of France to the south.

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So when the train came along, all the water authorities

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and everyone who'd put any money into canal building -

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which was an awful lot of people -

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felt almightily threatened

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and wished the train would just go away.

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In fact, until 1842, even building a train line in France was illegal.

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In that year, though, the law was changed.

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And the conquest of rural France by the iron horse could begin in earnest.

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In 1842, there were no miles of national rail track in France.

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By 1892, there were 30,000 miles of it, a crazy expansion

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connecting Paris to its suburbs, the capital to the coast.

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But it's no good just getting to places quickly.

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You also need the right painting gear when you get there.

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All sorts of gadgets were invented to make artistic travel easier.

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The entire painting kit was rethought and miniaturised,

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so it could all be carried around in this handy little box.

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A few clicks of the latch and hey presto,

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one minute you're this.

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The next minute, you're this.

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Now when you see pictures of the Impressionists in their full painting gear,

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you might think they look a bit silly

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and they're just trying to achieve a fashionable, painterly look.

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But actually, all this has a purpose.

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The silly smock is obviously handy

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for carrying your brushes and things,

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but the really important thing about it, is its colour.

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It's deliberately dark, black or blue.

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That's because if you're trying to catch

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subtle nuances in the landscape,

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the last thing you should be wearing is bright coloured clothes,

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which would throw bright coloured reflections.

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If this smock were pink,

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it would throw pink reflections back on to the picture.

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And these big hats they all wore and the twee parasols,

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they weren't there just to keep the midday sun off your head.

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More threatening to the committed Impressionist than sunstroke

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was the damage done to your colour values by direct sunlight.

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It just messed them all up.

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If I paint something bright green in the hot sun

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and then take it home afterwards, it'll look completely dark.

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So the very worst time to paint an Impressionist picture

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is on a hot and sunny afternoon.

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That really is a challenge.

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So the parasols and the wide brimmed hats

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were to ensure that when you took

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your Impressionist masterpiece home at the end of the day,

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you could still see the glorious field of poppies

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you'd spent all afternoon painting...

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..or that sunny, boating view you'd worked on so sweatily

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by the banks of the Seine.

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Painting landscapes outdoors is hard enough,

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but for really problematic outdoor painting

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there's nothing quite as tricky as painting people.

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Unlike landscapes, people need to be persuaded to sit for you.

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They get bored, fidgety.

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One day they turn up, the next day they don't.

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You know what French girls are like!

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Renoir had developed a fiendishly difficult ambition.

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He wanted to capture the mood of modern Paris.

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The bonhomie, the relaxation, the laughs.

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And he wanted to paint it all outdoors, as it was happening.

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To do that, he got himself a studio up here in Montmartre

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at the top of the hill.

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In Montmartre, nobody watched what you were doing,

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so you just did more of it.

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This was where the poor people lived and where the most fun was had.

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Away from the authorities, away from the old rules.

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Renoir's new studio was along here in the Rue Cortot.

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It had a handy garden...

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..in which he persuaded some of Montmartre's

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prettiest girls to pose for him.

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Renoir needed to be at his most dangerously persuasive

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to charm this 16-year-old Montmartre blonde,

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Jeanne Margot, into his garden.

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She was up for it.

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But her mother, a wise old bird, wasn't.

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Perhaps she knew that Renoir was deliberately trying

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to update this risque old master,

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The Swing by Fragonard,

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painted in the naughty days before underwear was invented.

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Renoir was stealing himself for something big,

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a statement, an encapsulation of this new Parisian mood.

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And this big picture was going to be painted outdoors, in situ,

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with all the models around.

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So he ordered himself an extra large canvas

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and every day for the whole of the summer

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he lugged it around Montmartre with a pal.

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Down here.

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Along here.

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Up here.

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And finally over here, to the infamous Moulin de la Galette.

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The Moulin was Renoir's favourite playground.

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It was everyone's favourite playground.

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A bar, a restaurant, a dance floor,

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it really came to life on Sunday afternoons

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at the end of the working week,

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when the flirting and the dancing reached its climax.

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This is a galette, by the way.

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It's a cheap and popular cake they sold in there.

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But people didn't come to the Moulin for the cakes.

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They came for the opportunities, the adventures, the joie de vivre,

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and that's what Renoir set out to paint as well.

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He worked on it for months inside the Moulin, on the dance floor,

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using the Montmartre girls and their friends as models.

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Jeanne Margot's in there somewhere having fun.

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So is her older sister, Estelle, the girl at the front.

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Renoir's Moulin was shown at the third Impressionist exhibition of 1877,

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where everybody noticed it.

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It's a fabulous, fabulous picture.

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But to see it only as a record of fun and frolics in Montmartre

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would be a mistake.

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The Moulin de la Galette

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is also a big Impressionist statement, about social change.

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The new heroes of Renoir's art

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aren't priests or emperors or generals,

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though there's probably a few of those in there somewhere,

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everyone came to the Moulin.

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But the real heroes here are the working girls

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and the young chaps with attitude,

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the modern Parisians in whose boisterous grasp

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the future now lay.

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Something else revolutionary about the Bal

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at the Moulin de la Galette is the way it's painted.

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It's often true of Impressionist art.

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The closer you get, the more revolutionary it seems.

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All Renoir's art, all Monet's art, and Pissarro's,

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is a tribute to the crucial contribution

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to art history made by this fine animal here.

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This excellent brush in waiting.

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Porky, the pig.

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Brushes were the key to Impressionism.

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Without the latest brushes applying the latest colours

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in the latest ways, Impressionism couldn't have happened.

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Traditionally brushes were made out of this little chappie here.

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Out of different members of the weasel family.

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Various types of weasel hair were used, the most precious of which

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came from the kolinsky sable, which lived in Siberia,

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and to protect itself from the cold

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the kolinsky had developed this special fur

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that trapped the air bubbles.

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And when it was used in artists' brushes, it kept the paint very well

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and released it slowly, so artists who wanted to use glossy surfaces,

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shiny surfaces, they used the sable.

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In the 19th century, however, a crucial switchover occurred.

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In techniques, ambitions and animals.

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Instead of smooth, silky, sable hair,

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landscape artists began to use the hair from little piggy here.

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Hog's hair was stiffer,

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thicker and in the wrong hands, clumsier and messier.

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But in the right hands, the hands of the Impressionists,

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hog's hair made your brushes sing.

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Hog's hair brushes didn't glide around the canvas,

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they dug and scraped across it

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in exciting furrows of paint and colour.

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A new language is being invented and its ambition isn't to fool you

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or pretend something is there that isn't,

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its ambition is to speak to you, through paint.

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And excite you.

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So that's the superb contribution to progressive art

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made by this fine creature here,

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the best friend the Impressionists ever had.

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The River Seine is 776 kilometres long.

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It flows all away from the Swiss Alps to the English Channel,

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but as far as art is concerned

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it only really gets interesting when it gets to Paris.

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In Paris the Seine grows complex and devious,

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twisting back on itself, toying with the geography.

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By the time it comes out the other side,

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it's become such a fascinating river.

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Apparently the word Seine

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comes from the ancient Celtic and actually means "sacred river".

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The Impressionists certainly worshipped it.

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They kept painting it and repainting it,

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until they'd made it the most painted river ever, anywhere.

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They saw it in all weathers.

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In summer and in winter.

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In mysterious mists and terrifying floods.

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And the Seine was much too useful as a watery motorway

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from Paris to the sea

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to remain pretty for 776 kilometres.

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Sometimes the new satanic mills cluttering its banks

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coughed horrible things into the air

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and filled the sky with darkness.

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But most of the time it was delightful.

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All these happy Parisians

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enjoying their new leisure time in new outdoor ways.

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Boating, sailing, having fun.

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And one thing you can rely on in the story of Impressionism,

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is where there's fun, there's Renoir.

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In the old days in France, Sundays were for going to church,

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for communing with your creator and feeling guilty.

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But in these new secular Sundays that Renoir paints,

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the weekends are for fun.

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And Sundays are now for relaxing and looking beautiful,

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for parading in your finery,

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for flirting, lunching and above all, for dancing.

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Apparently Renoir was a fiend on the dance floor,

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a really good mover, marvellous dancer,

0:26:550:26:57

and his love of polkas and waltzes is unmissable

0:26:570:27:01

in his favourite paintings of mine, Renoir's dance pictures.

0:27:010:27:06

Come on, how can anyone resist

0:27:070:27:10

these twirling evocations of couples having fun?

0:27:100:27:14

Renoir's joie de vivre is surely contagious.

0:27:140:27:20

The most ambitious of Renoir's dancing pictures,

0:27:260:27:30

The Dance at Bougival, features Suzanne Valadon,

0:27:300:27:35

an outrageously gorgeous Montmartre model,

0:27:350:27:39

who turned many a fine artistic mind to jelly.

0:27:390:27:46

Valadon pops up here and there in Renoir's art,

0:27:470:27:51

sometimes with her clothes on.

0:27:510:27:54

Often without them.

0:27:550:27:57

She's the modern girl as the new Venus,

0:27:570:28:00

elbowing out the imaginary goddesses of the Greeks

0:28:000:28:04

and elbowing in the living,

0:28:040:28:07

breathing girls of Montmartre.

0:28:070:28:11

Even Renoir, who was hardly a prober of people's character...

0:28:150:28:19

..found something deep to notice in Suzanne Valadon.

0:28:210:28:25

He painted her dancing, here, at Bougival.

0:28:260:28:30

Renoir saw something far away in Valadon's eyes,

0:28:320:28:37

a doubt, a dream, a regret.

0:28:370:28:40

As characterisation, it's not in the Rembrandt league,

0:28:410:28:46

but it is deeper than we usually expect of Renoir.

0:28:460:28:50

These sensuous pleasure pictures of Renoir's

0:28:540:28:57

painted on location outdoors

0:28:570:28:59

are deliberately blowing raspberries at the Old Masters.

0:28:590:29:03

Their message is that the modern world

0:29:040:29:06

and the things modern people do are a fitting subject for great art.

0:29:060:29:12

Today, we tend to look down on Renoir's party paintings

0:29:130:29:18

and accuse them of superficiality.

0:29:180:29:21

As Renoir himself once complained,

0:29:220:29:25

people don't take you seriously if you smile.

0:29:250:29:29

Bravo.

0:29:310:29:32

SCATTERED APPLAUSE

0:29:320:29:34

The world was opening up.

0:29:410:29:42

Places that had been so difficult to get to were now easy.

0:29:440:29:49

This place, Etretat, in Normandy, was just a train ride from Paris.

0:29:510:29:57

The difficulties here started after you arrived.

0:29:590:30:03

Monet knew Etretat from his youth.

0:30:040:30:07

He grew up in Le Havre, just up the coast from here,

0:30:070:30:10

and he was, of course, a beach bum by instinct.

0:30:100:30:13

When Monet returned here a full-grown Impressionist,

0:30:150:30:19

he'd stay in a hotel just back from the beach.

0:30:190:30:22

Sometimes he was content to paint the view from the hotel window.

0:30:230:30:28

But most times he wasn't.

0:30:280:30:31

Painting in Etretat was anything but simple.

0:30:330:30:37

In fact, it was damned difficult.

0:30:370:30:39

Monet would have to lug his gear

0:30:410:30:45

across all these treacherous boulders to get to the best rocks.

0:30:450:30:51

And then he'd have to clamber up there

0:30:530:30:56

to that spooky tunnel you can see...

0:30:560:30:59

..to his favourite beach on the other side.

0:31:010:31:04

These days, it's even tougher to get down there.

0:31:090:31:13

The sea's completely cut it off.

0:31:130:31:16

If he was in the money, he'd get some of the local kids to carry his gear for him,

0:31:220:31:28

so you have to imagine a procession of small children, overburdened

0:31:280:31:32

with canvases, easels, parasols,

0:31:320:31:37

slithering across the rocks to get to Monet's secret beach.

0:31:370:31:41

One day, he was so engrossed in painting the sea

0:31:450:31:48

that he lost track of time and forgot the tide.

0:31:480:31:53

As the tide rushed in, he was trapped out here on the rocks.

0:31:550:31:59

His paints scattered, his pants ripped,

0:31:590:32:02

his new canvases floating out into the Atlantic.

0:32:020:32:06

He made it back, but only just.

0:32:060:32:11

These are some of the few original fishing boats left in Normandy.

0:32:210:32:26

Exactly like the ones Monet painted

0:32:260:32:29

and went out on when he was feeling particularly reckless.

0:32:290:32:33

The tide is high, so you can go all the way to those big rocks out there

0:32:390:32:42

and float right underneath them,

0:32:420:32:44

but you have to be pretty brave to do that and a bit stupid!

0:32:440:32:48

Another of the great Impressionists we'll be looking at in this film,

0:32:560:33:00

Cezanne, made a famous quip once about Monet.

0:33:000:33:04

"Monet," said Cezanne, "was just an eye.

0:33:040:33:09

"But what an eye."

0:33:090:33:11

Cezanne was trying to say that Monet was really good at looking,

0:33:130:33:17

which he was.

0:33:170:33:18

Monet watched the sea more intensely than anyone else, but you don't come

0:33:180:33:24

all the way out here and float under that thing if all you are is an eye.

0:33:240:33:29

To do this, you need to have a big heart as well.

0:33:290:33:33

And a mighty set of cojones.

0:33:330:33:37

Dry land, though, isn't always a relaxing alternative -

0:34:050:34:09

not when nature decides to make it tough for you.

0:34:090:34:14

The Impressionists were very partial to snow.

0:34:150:34:19

They all painted it.

0:34:190:34:21

Monet, Renoir, Pissarro.

0:34:210:34:24

The snow picture became an Impressionist speciality.

0:34:240:34:28

Part of the attraction of course was the beauty of snow scenes.

0:34:320:34:36

Snow brings crispness and drama wherever it falls.

0:34:360:34:42

But there were also scientific issues to consider,

0:34:470:34:50

as there usually are with the Impressionists,

0:34:500:34:53

because the one thing you get more of in the snow

0:34:530:34:56

than in any other natural conditions,

0:34:560:34:59

is coloured shadows.

0:34:590:35:02

Look deeper into any Impressionist's snow scene

0:35:050:35:09

and you'll usually find some brave experimentation going on,

0:35:090:35:12

with vivid blues and livid purples.

0:35:120:35:17

Scornful reviewers looking at these bright purple shadows

0:35:260:35:31

would sometimes burst out laughing

0:35:310:35:34

and accuse the Impressionists of hallucinating,

0:35:340:35:37

but of course they weren't.

0:35:370:35:41

They were just painting what they saw,

0:35:410:35:44

because snow shadows are never black.

0:35:440:35:47

They're always full of colour, and I'm going to show you why.

0:35:470:35:53

First, I have to build myself a projection screen.

0:35:550:35:59

Somewhere to show you the natural magic we're dealing with here.

0:35:590:36:05

The Impressionists did it on their canvases.

0:36:050:36:09

I'm going to do it...

0:36:090:36:11

..on this.

0:36:120:36:13

So that's my projection screen.

0:36:160:36:20

Now, these two torches are basically artificial versions

0:36:200:36:25

of the natural light you get around here in the winter.

0:36:250:36:28

This is the sun shining down from the sky.

0:36:280:36:32

This one here, that's all the ambient light that you get

0:36:320:36:36

reflected up off the snow.

0:36:360:36:38

That's why the snow is so good for showing this,

0:36:380:36:41

because there's so much ambient light reflected off it.

0:36:410:36:45

So sunlight, snow light, but to show you how these two come together

0:36:470:36:55

to create coloured shadows, I need to switch off all the other lights.

0:36:550:37:01

That's better.

0:37:030:37:06

Now, these are two typical Impressionist figures,

0:37:060:37:10

a man and a woman, bourgeois types of the kind you see strolling around

0:37:100:37:16

so much Impressionist art.

0:37:160:37:20

And I've also got

0:37:210:37:23

this coloured cellophane.

0:37:230:37:25

So think of this yellow cellophane

0:37:290:37:33

as an artificial version

0:37:330:37:36

of a sunny day.

0:37:360:37:39

Imagine the sun up in the sky shining lots of yellow light down,

0:37:390:37:44

and if I throw this yellow light

0:37:440:37:48

at the Impressionist couple,

0:37:480:37:52

and also this other light,

0:37:520:37:55

representing the ambient light reflected from the snow, you'll see

0:37:550:38:01

that the Impressionist couple

0:38:010:38:04

are now casting purple shadows.

0:38:040:38:08

However, if I change the colours and make this a red light -

0:38:110:38:14

imagine a red sky with the sun shining at sunset,

0:38:140:38:19

and shine that at the Impressionist figures,

0:38:190:38:23

then you'll see that the colours of the shadows

0:38:230:38:27

change as well, and become greenish.

0:38:270:38:31

It's basic optical science.

0:38:320:38:35

Light is made up of all the colours of the spectrum,

0:38:350:38:38

so if you block off some of these colours,

0:38:380:38:40

the receptors in your eyes begin to see new things.

0:38:400:38:45

Interestingly, though, the Impressionist era

0:38:480:38:51

wasn't just an important era for scientific experiment,

0:38:510:38:56

it was also an important era for shadow puppets.

0:38:560:39:00

Puppet shows were an immensely popular entertainment

0:39:000:39:04

in the bars and cabarets of Montmartre,

0:39:040:39:07

and huge crowds would flock to see the best ones.

0:39:070:39:11

And any nosy Impressionist in the audience

0:39:110:39:14

couldn't have failed to notice the intriguing colour issues

0:39:140:39:19

that were being raised by these puppet shows.

0:39:190:39:24

If we jump ahead in this series to the Seurat story that's coming up,

0:39:270:39:33

we'll see coloured shadows and the magic of the puppet show combined

0:39:330:39:37

so adventurously and brilliantly.

0:39:370:39:41

Bonjour, Madame.

0:39:420:39:44

Bonjour, Monsieur!

0:39:440:39:45

Vous etes tres belle!

0:39:450:39:48

Oooooh!

0:39:480:39:51

The Impressionist who was most fascinated by coloured shadows

0:39:560:40:00

was Camille Pissarro,

0:40:000:40:02

who loved Christmas scenes and winter frosts.

0:40:020:40:07

He found plenty of both here in Pontoise, where he moved in 1872.

0:40:070:40:13

Pissarro didn't just look like Father Christmas,

0:40:150:40:19

he behaved like him as well.

0:40:190:40:21

One of his best qualities was his generosity.

0:40:210:40:25

Most French artists of the time had egos the size of the Eiffel Tower

0:40:320:40:37

and thought only of "moi, moi, moi".

0:40:370:40:40

But not Pissarro.

0:40:400:40:43

If you keep watching this series,

0:40:430:40:45

you'll see him helping Gauguin become an Impressionist,

0:40:450:40:49

and then promoting Seurat, the genius of the dots.

0:40:490:40:53

He even made sure poor old Van Gogh had somewhere peaceful to die,

0:40:540:41:00

by bringing him here, to Auvers, just up the river from Pontoise.

0:41:000:41:06

Back at the beginning of our story,

0:41:180:41:20

in the early days of Impressionism, Pissarro even took in an interest

0:41:200:41:26

in an artist that no-one else would touch with a barge pole.

0:41:260:41:30

A particularly stubborn and selfish and downright weird painter

0:41:300:41:37

called Cezanne.

0:41:370:41:39

Cezanne's early work,

0:41:450:41:47

the pictures he showed in the first Impressionist exhibition,

0:41:470:41:50

are still challenging today.

0:41:500:41:54

So imagine what people thought when they saw these things in 1874.

0:41:540:41:59

A peculiar self-portrait,

0:42:020:42:05

with a bearded Cezanne leching over a shivering nude

0:42:050:42:09

in a half-mad brothel scene.

0:42:090:42:12

A portrait of Cezanne's father painted with a palette knife,

0:42:130:42:18

and looking as if it's been carved out of tar.

0:42:180:42:21

Never before has anyone produced art

0:42:230:42:25

as deliberately dark and crude and tough

0:42:250:42:29

as these strange pictures.

0:42:290:42:32

Cezanne called these early works "couillarde",

0:42:370:42:42

which is not a word you find in most French dictionaries.

0:42:420:42:47

It seems to mean something like "ballsy".

0:42:470:42:50

An art made...down there.

0:42:500:42:54

Rapes, mutilations,

0:42:560:42:58

big, hunking nudes.

0:42:580:43:02

The art pouring out of Cezanne when he fell in with the Impressionists

0:43:020:43:07

was so black and strange.

0:43:070:43:10

It was Pissarro who changed all that.

0:43:200:43:24

He invited Cezanne to Pontoise

0:43:240:43:27

and persuaded him to stop the darkness -

0:43:270:43:31

to get out of himself more, out of his black head,

0:43:310:43:35

and to start painting outdoors,

0:43:350:43:39

before the motif.

0:43:390:43:41

Somewhere just about here.

0:43:410:43:43

It was like throwing a switch.

0:43:470:43:49

One moment, Cezanne is the creator of this.

0:43:490:43:53

The next, he's gone all sensitive and rural,

0:43:550:43:59

and he's painting this.

0:43:590:44:01

When Cezanne became a landscape painter,

0:44:030:44:06

his darkness seemed suddenly to evaporate into sunny shimmers.

0:44:060:44:11

Cezanne showed in three Impressionist exhibitions

0:44:240:44:27

and then fell out with Pissarro, which was typical.

0:44:270:44:32

Cezanne fell out with everyone.

0:44:320:44:35

Returning home to Provence,

0:44:360:44:39

he cut himself off from the Paris art world

0:44:390:44:42

and devoted himself to painting the landscape he knew best.

0:44:420:44:47

This is the Cezanne family house, the Jas de Bouffan.

0:44:490:44:53

It appears in lots of paintings and hasn't really changed that much.

0:44:530:44:57

Cezanne's father was a rich banker.

0:45:020:45:05

The family home was big and bourgeois.

0:45:060:45:10

Cezanne enjoyed painting this posh pond here.

0:45:120:45:16

And when he finished with the grounds,

0:45:170:45:20

he started on the workforce.

0:45:200:45:22

In real life, everyone at the Jas de Bouffant

0:45:240:45:27

was constantly bickering and arguing.

0:45:270:45:30

But in the eternal game of cards

0:45:310:45:34

that Cezanne turns into one of his greatest subjects,

0:45:340:45:38

time stops still and peace takes over.

0:45:380:45:42

BIRDSONG

0:45:470:45:48

This is the studio Cezanne built for himself just outside Aix,

0:45:550:45:59

so he could paint out here in the countryside with no distractions.

0:45:590:46:03

It's been kept more or less as he left it.

0:46:050:46:07

Inside here, Cezanne produced some of the most revolutionary pictures

0:46:140:46:19

in the story of art,

0:46:190:46:20

using only the simplest ingredients.

0:46:200:46:24

All he needed was a bag of apples and a new way of looking.

0:46:250:46:30

The middle of the 19th century was THE great era of optical discovery.

0:46:350:46:40

All sorts of remarkable things were found out about vision.

0:46:400:46:44

What actually happens to the eyes when we see something?

0:46:440:46:47

What does looking actually involve?

0:46:470:46:52

It was an Englishman, Charles Wheatstone,

0:46:530:46:56

who first described stereo vision in 1838.

0:46:560:47:00

Until then, no-one had bothered to ask themselves

0:47:020:47:05

why human beings have two eyes.

0:47:050:47:08

Why don't we just have one big eye right here in the middle?

0:47:100:47:15

Wouldn't that be more practical?

0:47:150:47:18

More visually economical?

0:47:180:47:20

No, actually.

0:47:200:47:22

Because the reason we have two eyes is that with two eyes,

0:47:220:47:25

we can see in stereo and judge distances more exactly.

0:47:250:47:31

That's why people who lose an eye

0:47:310:47:33

have difficulty in the beginning driving.

0:47:330:47:36

They can't judge distances as well.

0:47:360:47:38

This had huge artistic implications.

0:47:380:47:42

Particularly for Cezanne.

0:47:420:47:44

If you stare hard at these apples I bought in the shop down the road,

0:47:480:47:52

you'll notice that each eye sees them differently.

0:47:520:47:57

The left eye sees them from over here.

0:47:570:48:01

The right eye from over here.

0:48:010:48:03

If I now combine these two views through the magic of television,

0:48:040:48:09

I'll get a crude Cezanne-ish blurring.

0:48:090:48:12

An optical tipsiness that's so Cezanne.

0:48:120:48:16

Cos what Cezanne realised was that traditional, single-point perspective,

0:48:190:48:24

where everything is arranged in a line in front of you, was wrong.

0:48:240:48:28

What we actually do is see in stereo, through two eyes,

0:48:280:48:33

each of which sees things from slightly different angles.

0:48:330:48:38

The brain then combines these two images into a single view.

0:48:400:48:45

It's a momentous discovery.

0:48:470:48:49

Traditional perspective was under attack.

0:48:500:48:54

Outside Cezanne's studio, just up here, a short climb away,

0:48:590:49:04

he painted one of his famous views of the Mont Sainte-Victoire

0:49:040:49:09

and explored another fascinating optical phenomenon,

0:49:090:49:14

discovered by the under-rated Charles Wheatstone,

0:49:140:49:18

who invented this contraption here -

0:49:180:49:21

the pseudoscope.

0:49:210:49:23

What this thing does is swap around all your optical information

0:49:260:49:31

so what you usually see in your left eye is moved to the right eye

0:49:310:49:37

and vice-versa.

0:49:370:49:39

As a result of swapping your eyes around,

0:49:410:49:43

concave shapes become convex and convex shapes become concave.

0:49:430:49:50

Everything is reversed.

0:49:500:49:52

Unfortunately, it's totally impossible for me to show you that.

0:49:570:50:01

There is no way I can feed separate information to both your eyes.

0:50:010:50:05

So what you have to imagine is that with one of these,

0:50:070:50:10

the human face becomes a mask,

0:50:100:50:13

which you see like that.

0:50:130:50:16

Backgrounds and foregrounds swap places.

0:50:200:50:24

The entire relationship of far to near is challenged.

0:50:240:50:30

A Cezanne also challenges it in his superb tussles

0:50:300:50:34

with the mountain that obsessed him.

0:50:340:50:37

The Mont Sainte-Victoire.

0:50:370:50:40

So did he actually use one of these?

0:50:440:50:46

I don't think so. He wasn't a man for gadgets.

0:50:460:50:49

But he'll definitely have known about it.

0:50:490:50:52

Optical discovery was in the air

0:50:520:50:54

and everything the Impressionists did was informed by it.

0:50:540:50:57

And if you stare at this landscape as intensely,

0:50:570:51:01

as relentlessly as Cezanne did sooner or later,

0:51:010:51:06

it'll start to shimmer and coalesce.

0:51:060:51:09

Until it reveals its deeper truth.

0:51:120:51:15

This is the Pont de l'Europe.

0:51:340:51:36

Ugly as sin, I think you'll agree.

0:51:360:51:38

But this was one of the most inspirational

0:51:390:51:43

art locations in Paris.

0:51:430:51:45

Great Impressionist things were done around here.

0:51:450:51:48

Manet, the grandfather of Impressionism,

0:52:000:52:04

had a studio up here on the Rue Saint-Petersbourg.

0:52:040:52:07

At number four, up on the first floor.

0:52:080:52:11

Notice the window up there.

0:52:130:52:15

That pops up again in the smoky background

0:52:160:52:19

of a very curious Manet painting

0:52:190:52:22

set on the Pont de l'Europe.

0:52:220:52:24

It shows a Parisian nanny with a little girl,

0:52:240:52:27

who looks out across the railway tracks

0:52:270:52:31

like a prisoner staring through the bars of a cage.

0:52:310:52:34

Remember, when Manet was living here,

0:52:340:52:38

all this was brand new.

0:52:380:52:40

The entire area had just been dug up and laid out

0:52:400:52:44

by the infamous Baron Haussmann, rebuilder of Paris.

0:52:440:52:48

And the Gare Saint-Lazare down there,

0:52:490:52:51

at which the little girl in the picture is staring,

0:52:510:52:53

that was the first railway station in Paris.

0:52:530:52:57

And to emphasise the city's new connectivity

0:52:590:53:02

to the rest of the world,

0:53:020:53:04

Haussmann had given all the boulevards

0:53:040:53:07

radiating from the Pont de l'Europe

0:53:070:53:09

the names of European capitals.

0:53:090:53:12

London.

0:53:150:53:17

Madrid.

0:53:180:53:20

Constantinople.

0:53:210:53:23

Edinburgh.

0:53:240:53:26

Yes, Edinburgh.

0:53:270:53:29

Rome!

0:53:310:53:32

Saint Petersburg.

0:53:350:53:36

All these roads that lead out of Paris.

0:53:360:53:39

That's what the little prisoner in Manet's painting

0:53:390:53:42

is dreaming of as well.

0:53:420:53:44

The new freedom that she can't get to.

0:53:440:53:48

And neither can her nanny,

0:53:510:53:53

trapped sadly on the wrong side of the tracks.

0:53:530:53:56

Who says Impressionism never had a message?

0:53:580:54:01

But the busiest Impressionist around here was Monet.

0:54:060:54:09

He was less interested in the Pont de l'Europe

0:54:090:54:12

and more interested in what was going on down there -

0:54:120:54:16

in that smoky hell of the Gare Saint-Lazare.

0:54:160:54:19

The Impressionists were frequent visitors to the Gare Saint-Lazare.

0:54:220:54:26

It was from here that trains left the city for the suburbs

0:54:270:54:30

and brought all those sunny views of the Seine within easy reach.

0:54:300:54:35

But in 1877, Monet had a Eureka moment.

0:54:370:54:41

Instead of painting the sunshine and the river banks,

0:54:430:54:46

why not paint the station itself?

0:54:460:54:49

The fog, the steam, the apocalyptic belching?

0:54:490:54:53

Now that would be modern.

0:54:550:54:57

Renoir told him he was mad.

0:54:580:55:01

Besides, he'd never get in.

0:55:010:55:03

Then, as now, you don't just waltz

0:55:050:55:08

into a mainline station and paint it.

0:55:080:55:11

There were rules to be followed. Forms to be filled in.

0:55:110:55:15

Jobsworths to be dealt with.

0:55:150:55:17

It should have taken months to organise.

0:55:210:55:23

Monet fixed it in a day.

0:55:230:55:26

Putting on his poshest clothes,

0:55:260:55:28

he demanded to see the director of the station

0:55:280:55:31

because he was Monet, the great painter.

0:55:310:55:35

The director had never heard of him before, of course.

0:55:360:55:40

His thing was trains, not art.

0:55:400:55:43

But this posh chap turns up

0:55:430:55:45

and tells him he wants to close down the station,

0:55:450:55:48

to delay the train to Rouen and to fill the space with extra smoke.

0:55:480:55:54

The director is just about to tell him no

0:55:540:55:57

when Monet piped up,

0:55:570:55:59

"I went to see the director of the Gare du Nord the other day

0:55:590:56:03

"and he was very welcoming.

0:56:030:56:05

"Do you know, I can't quite decide

0:56:050:56:07

"whether to do this at the Gare du Nord or here.

0:56:070:56:11

"What do you think, Monsieur le directeur?"

0:56:110:56:14

The next day, he was in.

0:56:140:56:17

It was actually very dangerous to fill the station

0:56:190:56:22

with all the smoke from all the engines of all the delayed trains.

0:56:220:56:27

But that was the effect Monet was after.

0:56:280:56:31

He'd set out to paint the foggiest sight he could imagine.

0:56:310:56:35

A vision that out-Turnered Turner.

0:56:350:56:38

A train shed full of smoke.

0:56:390:56:42

A dozen quickly painted canvases record his battle.

0:56:440:56:48

They were unveiled at the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877

0:56:490:56:53

and are among his most dramatic achievements.

0:56:530:56:57

Man giving nature a good run for her money

0:56:570:57:01

in the production of clouds and fogs

0:57:010:57:04

and apocalyptic thunder.

0:57:040:57:06

Monet could have died painting his station pictures.

0:57:090:57:13

choking on carbon monoxide and smoke.

0:57:130:57:16

But he was an Impressionist

0:57:160:57:18

and Impressionists don't take shortcuts.

0:57:180:57:22

These guys were determined, hardcore, and did whatever it took.

0:57:250:57:30

Why they tramped through fields of the coldest cold,

0:57:360:57:40

just to capture the colour of shadows.

0:57:400:57:45

They trekked up mountains.

0:57:520:57:54

Wherever nature impressed them,

0:58:000:58:03

the Impressionists went after it and tried to capture it.

0:58:030:58:07

Fogs.

0:58:150:58:17

Floods.

0:58:220:58:24

Rain storms.

0:58:300:58:32

And treacherous coastal black spots.

0:58:360:58:38

They were after the truth and went where it took them.

0:58:440:58:49

And that's never been an easy journey.

0:58:490:58:51

Mind you, not all the exploring the Impressionists did

0:58:550:58:59

was done outdoors.

0:58:590:59:00

Sometimes the most interesting sights

0:59:020:59:04

are right there under your nose.

0:59:040:59:06

As we'll find out in the next film

0:59:070:59:10

when we investigate the Impressionists indoors.

0:59:100:59:13

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:59:330:59:35

E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:59:350:59:38

Waldemar Januszczak continues his investigation of the Impressionists by taking us outdoors to their most famous locations. Although Impressionist pictures often look sunny and relaxed, achieving this peaceful air was hard work. Trudging through fog, wind and rain, across treacherous coastal rocks and knee-deep snow, Waldemar shows how the famous spontaneity of the Impressionists is thoroughly misleading.

This episode visits the French riverside locations that Monet loved to paint, and where Renoir captured the bonhomie of modern life. Waldemar also introduces a number of technical and practical developments of the age which completely revolutionised Impressionist painting - the invention of portable easels; the use of hog's hair in paint brushes; as well as the introduction of the railway through France. And a scientific demonstration in a Swedish snowdrift explains just how right the Impressionists were to paint brightly coloured shadows in their winter scenes, despite being accused of 'hallucinating' at the time.

Finally, Januszczak explains Cezanne's part in the Impressionist story from his dark and challenging early work to his first rural landscapes in France, and then his departure from Paris and separation from the Impressionist gang.