Monet's Reflection

 

Monet’s Water Lilies: An Artist’s Obsession is a small exhibit (just nine paintings) that’s making a big impression at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. Most of the masterpieces by French Impressionist Claude Monet are on loan from private collections and museums around the country and date from 1895 through 1926, the year the artist died. They illustrate the development of Monet's style during the later years of his life, when his work focused exclusively on the watery landscapes he had created on his property in Giverny, France.

The small-scale show makes you feel as if you are having a private audience with the artist, offering up close access to savor these magnificent pieces, which have never before been shown in the same location. Most amazingly, the story of Monet’s self-described obsession unfolds as you move from painting to painting. His earliest of the water garden, “Japanese Footbridge, Giverny,” a traditional landscape with the bridge as focal point painted in a palette of lush pastels, begins the series. In each painting that follows, his technique is different. In one, his perspective faces into the pond, while in another he blends the water lilies and water together, and intense color palettes replace pastels. The large-scale “Water Lilies,” on rare loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is a breathtaking 7-by-20-foot mural of shimmering water reflecting layers of foliage and flowers. The exhibit returns full circle to “The Japanese Bridge,” painted 30 years after the first version but in fiery colors applied in heavy brushstrokes. In total, Monet produced more than 250 paintings of the water lilies.

The exhibit was curated by Dr. Eric Zafran, European art specialist at the Wadsworth. Zafran was inspired by Monet’s “Nymphéas” and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Monet Painting in his Garden at Argenteuill” (1873), which hangs at the exhibit’s entrance. A short film and a few photographs, one of Monet taken by Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray, accompany the exhibit, which will be on view through June 12. Zafran will give a talk and tour on May 13, and a screening of Monet’s Water Lilies, a documentary, will be shown on May 19.

For further info, call (860) 278-2670 or visit  wadsworthatheneum.org.                       

Monet's Reflection

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