Entries from January 2015

The Early Spring Garden

January 20, 2015

giverny-windowThis is what Claude Monet could see when he gazed through his bedroom’s window in April. Last year spring was very early and the first colors were already there at the opening of the garden. Wallflowers make a striking effect combined with tulips, while daffodils and jonquils form islands of white and yellow flowers on the lawns. In the distance, the tall trees of the water garden don’t have any leaves yet. It is just a matter of days.

Monet is Charlie

January 12, 2015


Claude Monet, ‘L’homme au petit chapeau’ (The Man in the Small Hat) 1855/56, Art Institute of Chicago.

Monet started his career as a caricaturist. The Art Institute of Chicago keeps one of his most ancient drawings, this man in a small hat made when he was 15 years old. Because the title is so vague and the drawing rather respectful, we can imagine that this young person may have been Monet’s school mate. Later on, Monet became more offending by drawing what was not yet called the people of Le Havre, as we say in French: the upper middle class bourgeoisie of his city

I must say this is not the Monet I like best. But it reflects the impulsive and rebellious personality of the painter. Twenty years later, it was Monet’s turn to be mocked, when he dared show his avant garde paintings  at the first impressionist exhibition in Paris.

This is how liberty goes. Monet and his friends opened new fields of liberty. The freedom to paint how I like, what I like. The freedom to exhibit and find buyers.

But Monet wanted more. Later on Monet still fought for the admission of Manet’s ‘Olympia’ in the state collections. He didn’t paint for a year to dedicate to this mission. He wanted public recognition of this new freedom.

In matter of politics, Monet was not the kind of artist that withdraws in one’s studio. He was friend with Zola and supported him during the Dreyfus Affair, because he felt things were not fair and had much to do with anti-semitism.

This is how he lived, secluded in the village of Giverny but reading the newspapers, keeping an eye on the world, speaking with Clemenceau.

Monet would have been Charlie.



A Kiss Under the Mistletoe

January 4, 2015


This picture was taken on January 1st at Giverny. Outdoors, under a mistletoe plant growing on a tree. Mistletoe is extremely common in our area and can be seen on a wide range of trees including poplars, apple trees, aspens or oaks.

As long as the leaves don’t hide it, mistletoe is very visible and puzzles many visitors. It is a parasite and it does kill the branches it grows on by being too greedy, but the tree itself generally resists. In the meanwhile, mistletoe offers bed and board to many birds. It is now considered an ecological keystone species.

As a guide, I was recently asked by a client if we also kiss under the mistletoe on New Year’s Eve. Actually, we do sometimes, although I doubt this habit belongs to the French folklore. But because we love kissing in France, any excuse for it is immediately adopted, of course. However to tell the truth, the clock striking midnight is enough to start the kissing party.

I wish you many opportunities for kissing this year and twelve months full of love, friendship and warmth. Have a wonderful year 2015!