Monet's followers on show at Giverny museum

5th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

GIVERNY, France, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - With easels and brushes in tow, Claude Monet had barely had time to settle in Giverny, a quiet Normandy village, before scores of budding artists from 18 countries came too.

GIVERNY, France, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - With easels and brushes in tow, Claude Monet had barely had time to settle in Giverny, a quiet Normandy village, before scores of budding artists from 18 countries came too.

A selection of works from the huge international art colony that grew around the home of the Impressionist master between 1885 and 1915 are on show until July 1 in Giverny's Museum of American Art.

"We thought that around 60 American artists had stayed in Giverny for various periods of time during this period, but after three years of research it turned out that a total 365 artists from 18 countries had come here," said Katherine Bourguignon, the curator of the exhibition.

While most of Monet's foreign followers came from the United States, there were also budding artists from Australia, the Austro-Hungarian empire, Britain, Canada and Switzerland.

Monet, then at the pinnacle of his career, moved to Giverny in 1883 to paint in the countryside in the hazy ever-changing light of the valley of the Seine river.

It was near the village of 300 people that he brushed his series of haystacks at different times of day in various climes, and the water-lilies in his garden in his later years.

But he seemed to have little fondness for the disciples he drew like a magnet. He made friends with the first generation, notably American Theodore Robinson, but kept his distance from the droves who followed until the outbreak of World War I.

"Some of them realised they would never meet Monet himself, but they drew consolation from the idea of being able to brush shoulders with other painters," Bourguignon said.

Many of the foreigners stayed at the local Hotel Baudy, the artist colony's favourite watering hole. But as the years went by others settled down in Giverny, renting or buying homes for their families. American Theodore Butler married one of Monet's step-daughters.

For some, such as Czech artist Vaclav Radinski or Americans John Breck and Mary MacMonnies, Giverny turned out to be a stepping-stone to showing their works at the then famed Salon de Paris. Exhibiting there was a sure path to success at home. Guy Rose, for example, who travelled to Giverny in 1890, later became the leader of the "Californian Impressionism."

The current exhibition, entitled "Impressionist Giverny: A Colony of Artists, 1885-1915", includes 95 works as well as photographs and manuscripts that recount the life of the village as well as the countryside.

The works, produced as Monet continued to experiment alone, are far more decorative and academic than the master's art of the time.

The exhibition, which will show at the San Diego Museum of Art from July 21 to October 1 this year, marks the 15th anniversary of the creation of Giverny's Museum of American Art by Daniel Terra, a wealthy arts sponsor from Pennsylvania.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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