Sunday, 7 July 2013

Monet's Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

Monet's Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
National Gallery of Victoria: May 10 - September 8, 2013

What can I say about the work of Claude Monet that has not already been said a million times before. He is known as the father of Impressionism and the driving force behind the movement having maintained many of the fundamentals until his death. Monet's Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris encompasses more than sixty works dedicated to his garden at Giverny that trace the evolution of his beloved garden through his work over a period of twenty years. Primarily as a result of his declining eyesight, we see his practice become increasingly about colour and less about form.

A highlight of the exhibition is the glass case which contains Monet's spectacles and painting pallet. To actually be able to stand before the pallet of arguably one of the greatest painters of the nineteenth century was humbling. With this he created some of the most iconic paintings ever made.   

Henri Manuel, French 1874–1947
Claude Monet (1840-1926) in front of his paintings ‘The Waterlilies’ in his studio at Giverny 1920, gelatin silver photograph, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
© Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, © Bridgeman-Giraudon / Presse

My favourite part of the exhibition was the final room. A large screen curves around the darkened room and we are taken on a tour of Monet's house at Giverny. Last day at Giverny is oddly calming and undeniably engaging as we are taken through the kitchen, the bedrooms and the extensive gardens. I was fortunate enough to see Monet's house back in 2009 and it is easy to understand why the artist was so drawn to this place. It's difficult to believe that while World War II raged on in France Monet was here, painting, separate from what was occurring but somehow intrinsically involved. During this period he painted and sold his work in support of the war effort.

Monet's Garden is a exquisite glimpse into one of the biggest influences on the artists life. One that he so often referred to as his reason for painting. 

Claude Monet, Waterlilies (Nymphéas) 1916–19
oil on canvas, 150.0 x 197.0 cm
Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, Gift of Michel Monet, 1966 (inv. 5164)
© Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, © Bridgeman-Giraudon / Presse

Claude Monet, Waterlilies (Nymphéas) 1903
oil on canvas, 81.5 x 100.5 cm, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo
Ishibashi Foundation, 1961 (F.P.22), Photo: Bridgestone Museum of Art

Claude Monet , French 1840–1926 
The bridge over the waterlily pond 1900 , oil on canvas 
89.8 x 101.0 cm , Art Institute Chicago, Illinois 
Mr and Mrs Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1933 (inv. 1933.441), Photo: Art Institute Chicago, Illinois

Claude MONET, Vétheuil (1879) 
oil on canvas, 60.0 x 81.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1937, 406-4

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