We went up to Oxford last weekend to visit the Ashmolean. Degas to Picasso was perhaps a misnomer for the exhibition, which ranged rather more widely, collecting influences from the late eighteenth century onwards. Although there were a lot of works in the exhibition, many of them were pencil drawings or sketches for larger pieces, and I didn’t feel especially engaged. There were a few items that caught my eye: Honoré Daumier’s The Legislative Stomach, Louis-Auguste-Gustave Doré’s Mountainous Landscape, Cézanne’s Study of Pine Trees, Andre Lhoté’s The Harvest and Ferdinand Léger’s study for The Three Musicians. Georges Rouault’s The Way is Long looked at a glance like a modernist take on Atkinson Grimshaw, and it required a closer look to reveal its more disturbed post-World War I theme. The Picassos tended to be more geometric, which may have been no bad thing.
There was a also a free exhibition in one room, with a selection of prints from Hiroshige’s Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji. To be honest, these were more to my liking and I’m glad we stumbled upon them. The Ashmolean is, to my mind, famous for its oriental collections, but as we wandered I was reminded again that it has quite a lot of European art; we focused on Turner’s artistic licence in his depiction of The High.