Entries from July 2008

Grandes Decorations

July 21, 2008

When Claude Monet was 70 he conceived a crazy project: huge panels featuring his pond to be glued on the walls of a big oval room.

Somebody standing in the middle of this room would be surrounded by his relaxing work.

It took him ten years to achieve his aim. He had to build a new studio for these over-sized paintings, he became almost blind because of cataract, but he managed to paint 91meter long canvases (almost 300 feet long). They are two meter high, as high as Monet could paint when he stood. Two rooms were eventually necessary to accommodate them.

The Grandes Decorations can be seen in l’Orangerie Museum in Paris on the Place de la Concorde, opposite to Musée d’Orsay. They won’t travel ever, they cannot be dismounted. The museum has just been renovated for six years and these extremely valuable paintings didn’t move while the ceiling of their rooms were opened and transformed.

A last amazing detail about these amazing murals: Monet donated them to the French state to celebrate the victory of 1918. He donated a ten year work!

Modern Flower

July 16, 2008

At Monet’s time, only white water lilies grew wild in France.

They were hardy flowers, able to stand cold and frost, whereas pink or yellow water lilies were of exotic origin and needed a warm greenhouse to spend the winter.

When Monet created his water garden at Giverny and imagined a pond with floating islands of colorful nympheas, these flowers where very modern.

By the end of the nineteen century a man called Bory Latour-Marliac had the idea of cross fertilizing hardy white water lilies with exotic ones. He was successful and obtained a full palette of hardy waterlilies. In 1889, the year of the Eiffel tower, Latour-Marliac exhibited his new creations at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, where Monet saw them. Four years before he had his pond dug he conceived the idea of it by seeing the beautiful water flowers.

Would Latour-Marliac not have created  his flowers, Monet would probably not have painted his Nympheas masterpieces.

Flaming border

July 12, 2008

In Monet’s garden at Giverny, yellow and red flowers unite their flame-like radiant colors.

This effect is obtained by mixing yellow flowers, especially liliums and spotted-loosestrifes with delicate red  crocosmias.

Croscosmias leaves have also translucent qualities enhanced by the morning sunshine.

The best tailors

July 8, 2008

When he didn’t paint, Monet liked to be well dressed.

Look at him standing in the main alley of his garden at Giverny. Monet did his best to look elegant. I am not sure he always achieved this target, for he had a funny and complicated way of dressing. He liked round shaped jackets, as a result he looked a bit like a big insect.

Anyway, Monet went to the best tailors in Paris and ordered expensive suits, even when he was short of money. He just didn’t pay for the bills… I was told the English aristocrats didn’t either in the 19th century. Obviously, Monet’s tailors were not enthralled and the painter would get into troubles, of course.