Being in the Impressionist Gallery is quite exciting! It is also an extremely busy place. The gallery is flooded with visitors from all over the world. Visitors seem to be very interested in the impressionists and the works of Claude Monet are probably the most requested of any of the master artists of the impressionist period. Of the large numbers of visitors who come to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., it seems the majority specifically want to see works of the impressionists. I enjoy talking to the visitors as much as I enjoy copying Claude Monet’s work! Perhaps that is why I’ve spent so much time in the Impressionist Galleries. For me it’s almost like traveling all over the world in one day. Those fluent enough in English to be able to communicate don’t hesitate to ask all kinds of questions and I make an effort to give them answers to the best of my knowledge. I try to keep up with some of the art history regarding each artist I copy in order to pass on bits of information. After all, the Copyist Program is an educational program so I’m not only perfecting my skills as an artist but I’m educating myself (and others) in art history.
Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, France. Known as the father of “Impressionism,” he was most concerned with painting form and light rather than realism. Monet grew up in Le Havre, France, a port town in the Normandy region. Like many artists, he did not like being confined to a classroom and preferred the outdoors. His love for drawing as a young child was preparation for his chosen career as he filled his schoolbooks with sketches of people in his community including caricatures of his teachers. After meeting Eugene Boudin, a local landscape artist, Monet began to explore the natural world in his work. The world of nature would later become the cornerstone of Monet’s paintings. As a “plein air” painter he was often accompanied by his contemporaries, Renoir, Sisley and Bazille on his outings. Monet won acceptance and entry to the famous and much desired Salon of 1865, an annual juried art show in Paris. After fleeing to London with his family during the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Monet eventually returned to France in 1872 and settled in Argenteuil where he visited with Renoir, Pissarro and Edouard Manet who, according to Monet, at first hated him because people confused their names. Monet sometimes would become frustrated with his work, a common feeling among artists. It is believed he destroyed a number of paintings, perhaps as many as 500 works. He would simply burn, cut or kick the offending piece. Wouldn’t we love to have those works today!
My latest project at the National Gallery of Art, is Japanese Footbridge, painted by Monet in 1899 in his beloved home of Giverny. He had the bridge built over a beautiful lily pond just so he could paint it under different light and various points of view. He planted his gardens with the same purpose, never having flowers of the same color growing next to each other. Instead, flowers were planted so complimentary colors grew side by side.
I’ll be in Gallery #81 for the next few weeks, come by for a Tuesday visit.