The new exhibition at the National Gallery in London is entitled "Delacroix - And the Rise of Modern Art". In other words, Delacroix, one of the most important artists of the first half of the 19th century, is presented as being important, not so much for what he actually did as an individual creator, but because he in so many ways foreshadowed the kind of art that was made immediately after his demise - in particular by artists linked to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and even Fauvism. Only about a third of the pictures included are actually by the artist who gives the exhibition its title.
This is a trend that is making itself increasingly apparent in major exhibitions devoted to great names in art history. Sometimes, the results are forgivable. London will very soon be treated to a show devoted to Giorgione and his influence. Everyone knows that there are only a handful of paintings that are securely attributed to the 16th century Venetian master, and that, of these, fewer still are likely to be lent. It will be interesting to see one or two of this rare handful, and to consider the influence of Giorgione’s magically ambiguous creative personality on his contemporaries and immediate successors.