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Sir Simon Schama introduces a new series from the Courtauld Gallery in London where he picks out the cream of the Impressionist collection from Cezanne, Manet and Gauguin.

Simon Scharma introduces visits the Courtauld Gallery in London where he picks out the cream of the Impressionist collection from Cézanne, Manet and Gauguin.

Simon was inspired to make the series because, "Like many of you I'm badly missing the joy of museums and galleries. So I'm really delighted to be able to talk about four of my favourite treasure-houses of great art - the Prado, the Rijksmuseum and the Whitney in New York, and, first of all, the Courtauld Gallery in London. I hope to convey in full-colour radio the transforming power of some of their greatest paintings.“

Choosing the Courtauld also unlocked a personal story for Simon. The collection was started by the textile magnate Samuel Courtauld and the firm had become rich producing the silk substitute Rayon. Simon's father, a textile merchant, bought huge amounts of Courtauld's Rayon and Simon remembers being taken to the factory to watch production. It awakened in him an awareness of colour for the first time.

He also remembers, as a young man, being transfixed in front of Cézanne's painting Montagne Sainte-Victoire - one of an exceptional collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings assembled by Sam Courtauld, at a time when the 'French rebels' were regarded with great suspicion by the Englist art establishment. This is his first choice in his tour for this programme.

The other choices are A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet - full of the life of late-19th-century Paris but also the mystery of how we should regard its central figure, the lovely but preoccupied barmaid - and Nevermore, Gauguin's haunting portrait of his naked teenage lover, painted in Tahiti in 1897.

You can find the names of the paintings and a link to the gallery on the Great Gallery Tours’ programme website.

Written and Presented by Simon Schama
Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 13 Jul 2020 16:00

Paintings in The Courtauld Gallery

These are the paintings held by The Courtauld Gallery in London that are specifically discussed by Simon Schama in this programme: 

  • Paul Cézanne - Montagne Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine
  • Edouard Manet - Bar at the Folies-Bergere
  • Paul Gauguin - Nevermore


  • Mon 13 Jul 2020 16:00