Thursday, July 30, 2015

London museum report 6 -- National Gallery / Monet

I can't help it, I'm a sucker for Monet.  I know that Impressionism is so easy to love, requiring not much rigor, not much sophistication, but still I love it.  And Claude is my favorite of them all.  Yes, even more than Cezanne, although I'll lose art brownie points for admitting it.

So what a pleasure to find lots of Monets at the National Gallery in London.  Some seemed very familiar: water lilies, a train station, a Japanese bridge, boats on the Seine, snow on the countryside.  Because Monet so frequently painted long series of the same scene, exploring different conditions of light, you feel you're seeing old friends even if you've never come across this particular picture in person.

In particular, it felt like old home week to come upon a huge water lilies panel, on the same scale as those in the Orangerie in Paris (built specifically to house Monet's grand gift to the French people) and those at MOMA in New York.  I have spent a lot of time sitting in front of those lilies, drifting happily through that horizonless universe.  Sitting down with this one brought me back to that familiar reverie.

Claude Monet, Water-Lilies, after 1916

Claude Monet, Water-Lilies, Setting Sun, ~1907

Claude Monet, The Water-Lily Pond, 1899

Claude Monet, The Gare St-Lazare, 1877

Claude Monet, The Petit Bras of the Seine at Argenteuil, 1872

Claude Monet, Snow Scene at Argenteuil, 1875

Claude Monet, Bathers at La Grenouillère, 1869


  1. When I was 16, and first living in London, I came round a corner in the National Gallery one cold winters day and fell deeply into that wonderful first picture.. You can smell the water, and see the sunlight dappling.
    After about 20 minutes, the guards came and threw me out - apparently "looking at art" should be much more fleeting..
    I've seen the Orangerie paintings, but nothing matches that first Impression


  2. I really think a painting works when you can hear, smell and feel something.
    cheers Jan

  3. I have loved Monet since I was a teen. Thanks for sharing. You are so lucky to have seen these works in person!

  4. Love his work! I feel really blessed that I was able to go to Giverny a few years ago. Such a beautiful place.

  5. Sitting and losing myself in front of the Monets at l'Orangerie in Paris was one of my favorite experiences in Paris.