Yesterday morning, with a feeling of mild sadness, I threw away the amazing frilly-knicker, head-turning gladioli that have been centre-stage in the kitchen for a week - they had created their own space and the table looks so empty now.
Then Phoebe and I went off to Tate Britain and the National Gallery so that she could find some flower, tree, foliage and reflection paintings as part of her summer holiday Art project. It was so interesting to see which works appealed to her, and in fact it turned out that of all the artists we looked at, she liked Monet the best. I suppose Monet is often considered almost a cliche these days, too easy to like, and too predictably appealing. But Phoebe, who is unprejudiced and unjaundiced and who did her best with Constable and the Romantics in the Tate, was immediately animated by Monet in the National and loved his use of colour and the semi-abstract nature of the later paintings. (I don't know what I've been thinking all these years, but I had no idea that his late work was so amazing and pre-dates so much modern abstract art by decades.)
And my head was turned by this exquisite painting of gladioli by Renoir. Why is it that pictures of flowers and gardens are somehow seen as second-rate and less worthy than more serious subjects?(Stanley Spencer called his pictures of flowers and houses and trees 'pot-boilers', yet they are wonderful, and sold and still sell like hot cakes.) These gladioli were, like my own gladioli, quite the highlight of the week.
'Gladioli in a Vase' Pierre-Auguste Renoir c 1874-5
On the same subject, the Impressionist Gardens exhibition in Edinburgh sounds excellent. All the critics who have written about the show are amazed that it has never been done before; this is what I mean about the fact that it's possible to be too highbrow about flower paintings. Thank goodness the National Galleries of Scotland are prepared to steer the middlebrow, Monet course.