Daubigny – Inspiring Impressionism

Did my fourth country visit in the Six Week holidays by going to Scotland this week – yes, I know it’s a technicality but I’m having this as a stat! 

I visited the Scottish National Gallery for the exhibition ‘Inspiring Impressionism’ which explored Charles Francis Daubigny’s influence on the artists who became known as the Impressionists. 

Daubigny was, as the labels described, “a pioneer of modern landscape painting” due to his loose painting style. 

Heavily criticised by the critics, he was championed and admired by the young artists, Monet, Pizarro, Sisley and Van Gogh. The exhibition juxtaposes their work with Daubigny. What was noticeable was the following set of characteristics that directly influenced the radical change. 

Daubigny would: 

  • Use wide format canvases 
  • Painted ‘en plein’
  • Covered the canvas with a gteyish-white ground which helped with illumination
  • Used small brushes and liquid paint for small detail, but broad, sketch-like handling elsewhere
  • Included images of contemporary detail, showing reality rather than an idyll
  • Skies dominated canvases with the horizon line being low. 

From an informative point of view, this was really good- learnt a lot and saw some lovely works by the other artists, but Daubigny’s work did leave me a little cold until I saw the painting at the top of this page.

Entitled simply, ‘Sunset Near Villerville’, this work from 1876 dominated the room. The contrasts of the hot oranges of the sunset with the blues in the sea were breath taking.  

Being a lover of Turner’s sunsets, I know I am not seeing anything new, but what amazes me is how you can be moved by something so simple as thickly daubed, brightly coloured oil paint that represents something we see almost every day. This photograph doesn’t really do it justice as the sun almost burnt itself off that canvas. 

A lovely work! 



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