• Current Reads

      Life after Life Jill McCorkle
      This Is Your Captain Speaking Jon Methven
      The Starboard Sea Amber Dermont
      Snark David Denby
      Bring Up the Bodies Hilary Mantel
  • Popular Tags

  • Recent Reflections

  • Categories

  • Moleskine’s All-Time Favorites

  • Echoes

    The HKIA brings Hong… on [788] Island and Peninsula 島與半…
    Adamos on The Master and Margarita:…
    sumithra MAE on D.H. Lawrence’s Why the…
    To Kill a Mockingbir… on [35] To Kill A Mockingbird…
    Deanna Friel on [841] The Price of Salt (Carol…
    Minnie on [367] The Rouge of the North 怨…
  • Reminiscences

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,081,918 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,710 other followers

Monet au musée d’Orsay

The two days at Musée d’Orsay were spent looking at Monet’s paintings (also looked at Renoir, Pisarro, Morisot, Degas and Guillaumin). Photos were prohibited inside the galleries—so I had to rely on the the official museum literature and publications for pictures. I highlight some of my favorite Monets.

On the first national holiday, Monet walked down Rue Montorgeuil with his painting equipments. The street was decked out with flags and swarming with people. In Rue Saint-Denis, fête du 30 juin 1878, he captures an astonishingly lively and moving impression of a subject he has chosen. This painting proposes a distanced vision of an urban landscape by a painter who did not mix with the crowd, but observed it from a window. The three colours vibrating in Monet’s painting are those of modern France. The impressionist technique, with its multitude of small strokes of colour, suggests the animation of the crowd and the wavering of flags.

In Le déjeuner: panneau decorative (The Lunch), the charm of the subject lies above all in the impression of spontaneity, in the simple evocation of a family life, some traces of which remain. The table has not been cleared at the end of a meal. A hat, hanging on the branch of a tree, a bag and a parasol left on the bench seem to have been forgotten there. In the cool shade of the green foliage, little Jean Monet quietly plays with a few pieces of wood.

In Londres, le Parlement. Trouée de soleil dans le brouillard (London, Houses of Parliament. The Sun Shining through the Fog), Monet’s London treatise, which includes views of Charing Cross bridge and Waterloo bridge, is in fact dominated by variations in the light and atmosphere due to the famous London fog, which enveloped the city, especially in autumn and winter. The unreal ghostly outline of Parliament buildings looms up like an apparition. The stone architecture seems to have lost its substance. Sky and water are painted in the same tones, dominated by mauve and orange. The brushstrokes are systematically broken into thousands of colored patches to render the density of the atmosphere and the mist.

Never was the artist’s brushstroke so free, so detached from the description of forms as in Nymphéas bleus (Blue Water Lilies). A close-up view of the canvas gives a feeling of total abstraction, because the brushstrokes are stronger than the identification of the plants or their reflections. The viewer has to make a constant visual and mental effort to piece together the landscape suggested in the painting. Eliminating the horizon and the sky, Monet focused on a small area of the pond, seen as a piece of nature, almost a close-up.

The paintings call for ponderous lingering. Other than the hour in which I had lunch à la carte (€16.50) at the restaurant, admiring the dazzling chandeliers and the painted and gilded ceilings of the dining room, I was browsing the gallery until the museum closed at 6 pm. Before I head home, I have to pay another visit for the appointment of the Manet show to complete the ritual. Librairie du musée d’Orsay also has a treasury of books that I would like to take home, including 25th anniversary special edition of Monet by Taschen.