Monet, The Magician of Light
The artist of the ephemeral, the genius who touched the intangible! Claude Monet (1840-1926) describing himself: “Other painters paint a bridge, a house, a boat, and they’re done. “But what I want to do is paint the air around the bridge, the house, the boat.”
This approach was a revolution in the history of art, and made Monet into the father of Impressionism; it was in Normandy that he would spend his life hunting for variations in the sky, reflections on water, and subtle changes in light. First from Le Havre where he discovered open-air painting with Eugene Boudin, then in Vétheuil, close to the River Seine where he would live with his family and finally in Giverny, where he went to live in 1883. It was from this village that he produced the works that would make him one of the most famous artists in the world: the Millstone series, the Poplar Trees, the Cathedrals of Rouen, and the creation of The Waterlilies, that colossal and obsessional work inspired by the Water Garden (which he himself had created). On 14 May 2019, one of the paintings from the “Millstone” series was acquired in New York for a record $110.7 million…
Monet now rests with several family members in the shadow of the bell tower at Sainte-Radegonde, in the centre of the village.
Claude Monet, “magician of light”, knew how to analyse colours and tame light. He was the most illustrious of the Impressionists, and knew how to fix an ambiance, an atmosphere. Georges Rodenbach, the symbolist poet, said of him “The artist knew how to read all the modulations of light, and draw from them the ‘seven colours of infinite variations.’ “ From 1886, fascinated by the light over Giverny and the beauty of the Seine Valley, he elected to paint the same subject at different times of the day and of the year, in order to capture each modulation in light, each subtlety of colour.
The man who brought clarity to the palette, who purified the shades of ochre, who succeeded in fixing so many aspects of light on canvas by means of his simple tone and fragmentary shading technique, through the use of short successive touches, died in 1926, in Giverny, aged 86.