Programme de Recherche International
Paris Île de France
In February 1913, the National Museum of Wales staged ‘the greatest artistic event in the history of Wales’, an exhibition of paintings that ‘should be a milestone in Welsh artistic development’. The sixty-one works exhibited were largely drawn from the private collection of Welsh sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, who also paid the exhibition’s costs. They were selected to ‘typify what is greatest in the art of the last century’; according to the catalogue and syllabus of lectures, this was ‘Impressionist Painting’: ‘The Great French Modern Art’. By publicly showcasing the Davies Sister’s trailblazing collection and celebrating impressionism, the exhibition’s organisers hoped to dissipate the ‘general apathy and want of taste for the arts’ that had long since exemplified what it meant to be Welsh. Responding to the new movement to globalise and provincialize impressionism, this paper traces how French impressionism became entangled in the politics, practices, and discourses of nation-building in twentieth century Wales.