Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Another long ago thread of interest was picked up when I spent first an afternoon in the musee d'Orsay in Paris to see the Impressionist paintings there and then made the day trip to Giverny, Claude Monet's home, about an hour away by train. The gardens at Giverny were more lovely than I imagined; the plantings were dense with many colors and varieties of flowers. At the water lily pond there actually was a line to take a picture at one of the most photogenic vantage points. In Monet's house I especially enjoyed the bright yellow dining room with the traditional wheatback chairs. They were very strict in the house - absolutely no photos - quite a curious contrast to the Musee d'Orsay where in addition to the famous paintings being in much natural light flooding in from high windows, lines of tourists were continually snapping away at them with flash. Go figure.

At home we had a little print of the Monet scene of the child in the path between the sunflowers, emblematic to me of an idlyllic summer day in a child's life. It alway hung in Susan's room but somehow it always belonged to Susan and Laura both. I was determined to find the vantage point in Monet's garden for that very scene. Soon had it narrowed down. There were trees now in the way but they could have easily grown up over the years. I thought. Well, the roof didn't look exactly right but they must have changed the roofline, hmm. It had to be right-everything else looked just right-I told myself (ignoring even the stairs that can be spyed on closer inspection.) I must have had a nagging doubt though because I decided to ask. Oh no, I learned, that scene was painted at Monet's earlier house at Vetheuil, about 20 miles away! I guess that is what I like about impressionist paintings-you can see your own dream in them!

Photos: Monet's Garden in Vetheuil, 1881; the scene at Giverny that had me fooled; the dining room in Monet's house (remember absolutely no photos-this is a picture of a postcard taken on my deck at home!); children in front of Monet paintings in Musee d'Orsay drawing with instructor-I was taken with the energy these children applied to their drawing. The most popular Monet prints are commonplace but if you are trying to get a handle on a less common one, this site might help.

Go figure runner-up: Did I see the original Monet's Garden at Vetheuil? No, the original is in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. And where is that American icon "Whistler's Mother?" Yes, it's in the Musee d'Orsay!

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