In one of the ironies of art history, the great French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel “discovered” Impressionism in London in January 1871 because he, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro had sought refuge there from the Franco-Prussian war. In another twist, the gallery on New Bond Street where Durand-Ruel exhibited French painters was called the German Gallery.
With its muddy grass, grey but luminous sky and barely sketched, dark silhouetted figures, Monet’s Green Park, painted during his year of exile, still embodies London. Green Park is one of more than 90 works either owned or traded by Durand-Ruel that are on exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. The same exhibition will travel to the National Gallery in London in March 2015, then to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from late June.