Painting of the Day

5 Dec

Image

 

Reflets d’arbres. by Claude Monet (1840-1926). Oil on canvas, 1914-1926. Currently on view at the Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris.

Notes from musee-orangerie.fr (translated from French):

In two large elliptical rooms, 2 meters tall and nearly 100 linear meters, unfolds a landscape dotted with water lilies, willow branches, reflections of trees and clouds, “without any illusion of an end, of a wave without horizon and without shores” in the words of Monet. Late onset and long considered a confusing Impressionism in which the monumentality and the absence of any human figure confer abstract character, this huge wall assembly is the sum of a lifetime for an artist.

Painted over twelve years, from 1914 to 1926, Monet draws from his familiar world: the “water garden” of his property in Giverny, surrounded by trees and decorated with aquatic plants, in which, for thirty years, the painter placed his easel to probe the changing rhythms. Seamless, it evokes the course of hours since the morning in the east, to the Sun sets in the west.

Offered by Claude Monet in France the day after the armistice of 11 November 1918, the Water Lilies were installed according to plan at the Orangerie in 1927, a few months after his death. Transformations of the sixties were had the effect of changing the original fittings but the renovation of the museum will allow Nymphéas to become the living heart and find the fullness of their meaning.

Original French text:

Dans deux vastes salles elliptiques, sur 2 mètres de hauteur et près de 100 mètres linéaires, se déploie un paysage d’eau jalonné de nymphéas, de branches de saules, de reflets d’arbres et de nuages, ” illusion d’un tout sans fin, d’une onde sans horizon et sans rivage ” selon les termes mêmes de Monet. Manifestation tardive et longtemps jugée déroutante d’un impressionnisme auquel la monumentalité et l’absence de toute figure humaine confèrent une caractère abstrait, cette immense ensemble mural est la somme de toute une vie d’artiste.

Poursuivi pendant douze ans, de 1914 à 1926, il puise dans l’univers familier de Monet : le ” jardin d’eau ” de sa propriété de Giverny, entouré d’arbres et orné de plantes aquatiques, devant lequel, trente ans durant, le peintre posa son chevalet pour en sonder les rythmes changeants. Sans solution de continuité, il évoque la marche des heures, depuis le Matin à l’est, jusqu’au Soleil couchant à l’ouest.

Offerts par Claude Monet à la France le lendemain même de l’armistice du 11 novembre 1918, les Nymphéas furent installés selon ses plans à l’Orangerie en 1927, quelques mois après sa mort. Des transformations des années soixante eurent longtemps pour effet de dénaturer les aménagements originaux mais la rénovation du musée va permettre aux Nymphéas d’en redevenir le cœur vivant et de retrouver la plénitude de leur sens.

My comments:

I’m not a huge Monet fan, but I really love the work that he did late in life, such as this painting. I like how he abstracted his landscapes more toward the end of his life, but I think this might have to do more with Monet’s eyes failing him as he aged than a conscious artistic choice. 

I’ve never been to Paris, so I’ve never seen this painting, nor the others from the Water Lilies series that are on view at the Musee de l’Orangerie. But I would expect that the effect of the paintings when standing in front of them in person is magnified even more than with paintings of smaller sizes. Something about the mere size of a painting really affects the experience that people can have with the painting. 

 

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