London can be a dreary place in the winter. Moments of great beauty (snowy morning) are followed almost immediately by something brutal and ugly (the white gives way to black slush; the city becomes engulfed in a grey haze for three days).
No one was more keenly aware of this than French painter Claude Monet, who fled here in the late 1800s to escape the destruction of the Franco-Prussian war. Deprived of the seamless beauty of the Parisian streets and the beautiful landscapes of Provence, he looked to the Thames for inspiration. The resulting paintings – currently on display at Tate Britain alongside works from James Tissot and Camille Pisarro – are beautiful, but not in the impressionist tradition. Through hazy hues of grey and orange, they convey a sentiment we have all felt, fatigue with the smog and slog of the centre of London.
It doesn’t tell the whole story of course – you can find ugliest corners of the capital. But it’s a thought-provoking and realistic snapshot of the city we know and love.