Light and Soul: Artists who influenced Impressionist masters celebrated at Cooper Gallery
But the brilliance of Monet and the revolutionary art movement owes a huge debt of gratitude to a group of early French landscape artists.
And a Yorkshire gallery is helping to write them back into the history books.
Light and Soul: Early Impressions of the French Landscape, a free entry exhibition at the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley, ingeniously illustrates how the greats like Monet drew inspiration from their visionary mentors, paving the way for an artistic movement that would change the face of art forever.
VIRTUAL TOUR: Take an interactive virtual tour of Light and Soul - CLICK HERE.
The exhibition, which runs to Saturday, October 7, features 17 exceptional 19th century landscape artists, who worked in the Forest of Fontainebleau and along the coastal areas of Normandy.
It features work by the prolific and influential Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, whose landscapes were a revelation. His unique approach to capturing light, his penchant for fleeting moments in nature, and his connection with the environment shaped the young Monet's artistic vision.
"There is only one master here, Corot," said Monet. "We are nothing by comparison."
Light and Soul also features work by Eugène Boudin, mentor to the young Claude Monet, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, influential in elevating the status of En plein air, or open-air painting, and the most famous female painter of the 19th century, Rosa Bonheur. .
Many artworks in the exhibition are part of the gallery's permanent collection.
Natalie Murray, curator at Barnsley Museums, has been able to research the French drawings and paintings thanks to funding from the Headley Fellowship through Art Fund.
It has allowed the Gallery to identify fascinating stories surrounding the paintings, previously unknown.
Several works in the exhibition have been conserved, allowing them to be on display after decades in storage. Cooper Gallery's artworks in this exhibition sit alongside paintings on loan from other museums and galleries across the UK, including Sheffield Museums, Leeds Museums and Galleries, York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery), the Bowes Museum, and The National Gallery, London.
WATCH VIDEO: Exhibition: Light and Soul - Conservation In Action at The Cooper Gallery - CLICK HERE.
There is also plenty to do for visitors of all ages at the Gallery and children can explore the Gallery's very own Forest of Fontainebleau. A haven for youngsters it's a treat for all the senses and a place to inspire creativity.
Light and Soul: The Next Generation, is a wonderful display also on show, featuring the artistic talent of Barnsley’s young people. Fusion, Barnsley’s local cultural education partnership, worked with Barnsley Museums to launch an art competition for schools, inviting children to create work inspired by nature.
From a fantastic 170 entries, artworks by 15 winners are on display with every entry available to view digitally on screen in the gallery and also online.
There’s plenty more to enjoy as part of the exhibition including films on artwork conservation, curator tours, sketchbook workshops, and a full exhibition catalogue available to purchase from the gallery shop.
Coun Robert Frost, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “The Cooper Gallery collection is a real asset to our town and borough, it includes outstanding work from British and European artists for everyone to enjoy.
"The research carried out as part of this project is invaluable and offers a real insight into the artists and the works included in the Gallery’s collection. It has uncovered previously unknown links to other national and international collections and allowed spectacular paintings to be restored.
"As always, we want to display the best exhibitions in Barnsley’s museums and galleries, and this is no exception. Visitors will be able to enjoy visions of light in the landscape and see how artists connected with nature in the tranquil setting of the Gallery.”
Admission is free, but the experience is priceless.
MAKE A DONATION: Visitors are invited to make a donation to Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust, which helps to fund Barnsley Museums’ five visitor attractions – Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre, Elsecar Heritage Centre, Cannon Hall Museum, Worsbrough Mill Museum and The Cooper Gallery.
FIND OUT MORE: For more information visit visit coopergallerybarnsley.gov.uk.