Robert Tanitch reviews the Monet & Architecture exhibition at The National Gallery
“People discuss my art,” said Claude Monet, “and pretend to understand, as if it were necessary to understand when it’s simply necessary to love.”
Claude Monet (1840-1926) is the ultimate impressionist, fresh and immediate, the master of the fleeting moment en plein air. I cannot think of anything more pleasant to see than his paintings. There are 78 in all, many of the very familiar and some of them not so familiar.
See the church in Vetheuil, the windmills at Zaandam, the snow and the bell tree in Argenteuil, the tiny houses perched on cliff edges, and the beach at Trouville.
See the Grand Canal in Venice. Monet, with his heightened awareness of the dispersion of light, captures the shimmering light on the water and the sunrays brilliantly.
“Monet is just an eye,” said Cezanne,“ but my God what an eye.”
See the Houses of Parliament and Charing Cross Bridge in London in dense mist. Cezanne was obsessed with London fog.
See the Cathedral in Rouen. He rented a small room opposite the west front to capture the constantly changing impression, the optional effects of light, weather and mood on the looming medieval stone facade.
See Le Quai du Louvre, all bright and sunny and charming and see the Gare St-Lazare in its sooty, smoky, steaming, cloudy cathedral grandeur.
Here, too, is all the flag-waving excitement in the celebration of National Holiday in Paris in 1878. Fascinating to stand right back and then look very close and see the fluttering, short, rapid brushstrokes and the chaos of colour.
“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment,” said Monet.
The Water Lily Pond in the water gardens in Giverny, with its Japanese footbridge, the flower-ridden water, is an aquatic, exotic paradise, a feast for the eye.
The exhibition runs until 29 July, 2018 and is strongly recommended. I had a great time. www.nationalgallery.org.uk
*Featured image (Top) – Claude Monet – The Quai du Louvre (Le Quai du Louvre), 1867 – Copyright Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag