Monet and the Mediterranean
“Monet and the Mediterranean promises to place our knowledge of Claude Monet on a more factual basis by bringing together, for the first time, the widely dispersed products of several trips to the French Riviera and Italy by one of history’s greatest painters of light and color.”
—Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury, director of the Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum, upon the initiative of Joachim Pissarro, presented a major loan exhibition devoted to Claude Monet (1840–1926) from June 8 to September 14, 1997. Entitled Monet and the Mediterranean, the exhibition assembled for the first time some 70 of the most important and fully resolved paintings executed by the artist on successive trips to the Italian Riviera (1884), the French Riviera (1888), and Venice (1908).
The bountiful wild vegetation and brilliant southern sun of the Mediterranean have a powerful effect on many travelers, and Claude Monet was no exception. Monet was first invited to the Mediterranean by his friend Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1883, and during subsequent trips he painted several magnificent series of works that have never been seen together in public. Together these stunningly vibrant works establish that, while Monet never renounced his lifelong attachment to his home base in the north of France (Giverny), he thrived as an artist when confronting the extreme effects of light and its refractions on a variety of scenes along the Mediterranean coast and the Adriatic shores. From the olive and citrus trees in the Italian fishing village of Bordighera and the vast seas and skies of Cap d’Antibes to the astonishing series of Venetian landscapes, these works reveal Monet’s fascination with the region and his obsessive goal of “painting light.” Arresting in their light effects and stunning colors, as well as the sheer beauty of the land and sea they depict, these masterpieces were assembled from both public and private collections worldwide. This exhibition bore witness to the artist’s highly individual imprint on the development of Postimpressionism.
“I skirmish and battle with the sun.
. . . and what sun here!
. . . One would have to paint it with gold and gems!”
—Monet in a letter to Auguste Rodin, 1888
Caption: Claude Monet, The Old Fort at Antibes (detail), 1888, oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Anonymous gift, 178.634