Exhibitions: Monet’s Nympheas

This exhibition has yet to open, but an article about it caught my attention. They do not charm everybody, but nearly all of Monet’s 250 water lilies paintings delight me. In fact, it is not just his waterlilies which enthrall.

There are Monet’s impressions of cities like Venice and London, his French churches, his various landscapes, his wonderful seascapes, and much more. But among the favourites, the favoured favourites remain Monet’s “Nympheas”. Though in poster or screen saver format, or admired during a museum visit. For a “Nympheas” or any of Monet’s paintings will set you back a couple of millions of Euros these days.

But according to Nick Clark, the famous paintings were nearly never painted. Monet’s garden at Giverny, now visited by so many, might actually have ended up looking totally different. There might not have been a pond, nor the famous bridge.

Local farmers protested against the creation of the immortalised pond and lilies. Don’t abuse them – like Monet did in a letter. A local stream needed to be diverted to create the pond and was – without a thought of how this might affect farmland and meadows.

The exhibition will open at London’s Royal Academy in January 2016. Its theme is clear from the exhibition title: “Painting the Modern Garden”. One of its highlights will be the complete Agapanthus Triptych. The three panels, now owned by different museums in the US, will be united and on show for the first time in the UK.

This exhibition will not only be about Monet. He will be represented by about thirty of the 120 paintings. Other artists whose works will be on display, include Kandinsky and Paul Klee. So this exhibition promises to be quite interesting and certainly well worth a visit.

Unable to visit the exhibition, or simply unable to wait till January 2016 to admire a Monet? Why not check if a museum near you has one on show. Or if you are holidaying in Normandy: why not visit Monet’s Giverny home and garden? On the other hand: if you only have a few days or hours in Paris, don’t forget to include a visit to the small Musee de l’Orangerie with its impressive eight “Nympheas” murals. I promise you: they will bowl you over.

Doomed to spend this summer at home? See if you can find Claire Joyes “Monet’s Table” or “Life at Giverny”. Even if the recipe for the banana ice cream is too complicated, reading one of these richly illustrated books will enable you to pretend you’re a guest of the Monet family at lovely Giverny.

Nick Clark, Independent: “Monet’s waterlilies”
Royal Academy London: “Painting the Modern Garden”, 30th of January – 20th of April 2016
Monet home and garden at Giverny: Foundation Claude Monet
Paris: Musee de l’Orangerie
Claire Joyes’ “Monet’s Table: the cooking journals of Claude Monet” is available through Amazon.



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