monet in normandy

Monet in Normandy

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco June 17th, 2006 - September 17th, 2006
North Carolina Museum of Art October 15th, 2006 - January 14th, 2007
Cleveland Museum of Art February 18th, 2007 - May 20th, 2007

Claude Monet is one of the world’s best-loved artists. His images of Normandy—its poppy fields, poplars, haystacks, Rouen Cathedral facade and, above all, its extraordinary coast—are regarded by art historians as revolutionary. The Normandy paintings embody a new vision, a fresh way of seeing, that assured Monet a place among the giants of art.

In Normandy Monet first began painting outdoors, en plein air. This was a relatively novel practice, and it proved to be a revelation for Monet. He later described the experience “as if a veil had been torn away,” and it determined what he would paint, and how he would paint, for the rest of his life. Monet is acknowledged as the preeminent master of impressionism. In fact, one of his early Norman paintings—his view of the harbor at Le Havre entitled Impression: Sunrise—gave the movement its name.

Monet in Normandy is the first scholarly exhibition to deal with the region of France in which the artist spent most of his life and created most of his paintings. Born in Paris, Monet moved with his parents to the coast of Normandy as a small child, beginning an intimate, lifelong relationship with the region and La Manche, the English Channel. His earliest pictorial experiments were created on or near its shores, and he returned to Normandy many times over the course of his career. In the 1880s Monet moved his family to Giverny, in the southeastern corner of Normandy, where he painted the village and surrounding fields. He also created a private garden and water lily pond that became his primary artistic focus in the decades before he died there in 1926, at the age of 86.

Monet’s paintings of the Normandy coast have been studied by writers who have delved into topics such as the interrelationships among tourism, fishing and impressionism, and the series of paintings of Rouen Cathedral. Despite this attention to his work, Monet’s central and enduring artistic relationship with Normandy—its dramatic coastline, commercial port cities, picturesque villages, countryside, and rivers—has never been the focus of a comprehensive exhibition. Monet in Normandy marks the first such scholarly consideration of this essential aspect of the artist’s career.

The exhibition features 50 paintings by Monet, borrowed from public and private collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan. These works span the artist’s entire career, beginning with early seascapes painted along the north coast of Normandy in the 1860s, such as The Pointe de la Hève, Monet’s first successful submission to the prestigious Paris Salon, and his earliest masterpiece, the Garden of Sainte-Adresse. The painter returned to the channel coast several times during the 1880s, focusing on the majestic cliffs at Pourville, Varengeville, and Étretat. During this period Monet made several paintings of a stone cottage built to house the customs officers who kept watch over the channel coast during the Napoleonic blockade in the early 19th century. These pictures foreshadowed his masterful series from the 1890s of grain stacks, Rouen Cathedral, and the Seine, which cemented the artist’s reputation as France’s greatest living painter.

The exhibition treats Giverny as part of Normandy and features important paintings of the village and surrounding fields and rivers as well as a number of water lily pond paintings. These offer a complement to the seaside images, which until now have largely dominated the idea of Monet’s Normandy. The exhibition thus reveals the fullness and complexity of the artist’s “image” of the region—its rural and coastal aspects and the grandeur and historical importance of its capital city, Rouen, as well as the intensely personal vision expressed in the water lily paintings, which consumed Monet for the last 30 years of his life.

Monet in Normandy is the first comprehensive exhibition of Monet’s paintings to be shown in the Southeast. Featuring more than 50 impressionist masterpieces of the highest quality and significance, it promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Museum visitors.

Monet in Normandy is organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Back to Monet exhibitions list : Claude Monet exhibition

Claude Monet Home Page | Monet paintings | Claude Monet Biography | Monet's house and garden in Giverny
Monet colors | Monet Books | Monet exhibitions | Monet in Museums
Further reading on Giverny Blog with sections on Monet's Water Garden, Monet's House, Monet's Life and Monet's painting.
Paris 2012-2013 Exhibition: "Impressionism and Fashion at Musee d'Orsay

© A. Cauderlier, 38 route de Giverny 27200 Vernon France, Editor.

Last modified : Sunday, 12-Nov-2006 12:54:17 EST