While we were in London we had to the chance to visit the National Gallery for the new exhibit, Monet & Architecture. I had booked this exhibition online months in advance in case it had sold out and I am so glad I did! It was a truly amazing exhibition covering so much of the artist's work. We were not able to take photographs in the gallery so I will be using images I found online to show my favourite pieces of the exhibit. I have seen a few Monet exhibits so far and this one was very unique in its own right. It focused on an overlooked aspect of Monet's work and that was his focus of architecture in his paintings. He used architecture to enliven his art and show the effects of light and weather on buildings by painting en plein air (outside.) Below were some of my favourite paintings on exhibit. I hope you enjoy just a snippet of this exhibition, however, if you find yourself in London before the exhibition ends on July 29, 2018, I would highly recommend taking the time to visit.
Monet traveled a lot throughout his career to capture different cities throughout Europe. When he was visiting the Netherlands he was fascinated by the architecture, which can be seen in the image above. He wrote to his painter friend, Camille Pisarro that 'the houses in all sorts of colours, the hundreds of windmills and boats are ravishing.' In this painting above he pointed out the different shapes and style of the houses and how they reflect along the water. Monet once again uses light and reflections to give the viewer the perception of water in the foreground. I have been to Amsterdam before and his pieces that demonstrate the architecture there brought me back to the city immediately. Monet is able to capture a feeling through his painting and the gallery curated this wonderfully, transporting the viewers to the famous places Monet painted.
This piece took my breath away when I saw it. The colours Monet achieves makes you think of summer in the south of France, the heat and the beautiful sea. This work depicts the gorge d'Ally, one of the ravines leading down from Varengeville to the sea. Monet paints deep within the shadow of the gorge, Monet looked out towards the sunlit Channel. The artist still depicts architecture here, however, it is a little more hidden than some of his pieces throughout the exhibition. The customs' officers' cabin can be made out to the upper left, its pitched roof echoing the natural parapets of the enclosing slopes.
This image displays Monet's interest in different effects of light and weather, specifically snow here. When I first saw this piece in the exhibition I immediately felt what the artist was conveying. It felt cold and quiet just looking at a piece. This is one of the many reasons why I have always loved Monet's work because of how he is able to make the viewer feel by just looking at a painting. In this winter scene the artist paints his home village of Giverny with a mist that covers the frosty trees and frozen ground. Monet is able to create a unified surface of cold blues and lilacs through his brushstrokes. By including architecture here, the viewer is able to get a sense of both volume and human habitation.
This painting is one that I have studied over and over again at university and fell in love with when I first saw it. The movement Monet is able to capture in this piece is truly incredible. Monet depicts the moment when strong wintry sunlight divides the boulevard des Capucines in two. The leafless trees cover the architecture of the buildings opposite and manage to hold the light. The artist's viewpoint is from the balcony of the first studio where the first 'Impressionist' exhibition was held in 1874 and where this painting was exhibited.
One of the final rooms of the exhibition held five images of the same cathedral facade, Rouen Cathedral. This was by far my favourite room throughout the exhibit because of the way the gallery curated it. They hung all five paintings next to each other with benches in the centre of the room. If I could have taken a photo in any room it would have been this one, specifically of the people looking at the pieces. They were mesmerizing, not only in their large size but because of what Monet was able to capture in each individual canvas. The artist began painting these pieces in 1892 and returned to them again and again until about 1894. It was painted facing the frontal view of the facade. Monet was able to paint the cathedral with light from sunsets to sunrises. The artist painted the way the light danced on the cathedral different in each canvas. When hung together like they were in the gallery it was like you, the viewer, were able to see the sun rise and set through Monet's eyes. It was like nothing I had ever seen.
Although there were many more paintings, 77 to be exact, as well as a film, these were some of my favourites. I hope that you enjoyed a little glimpse into this magnificent exhibition and you're able to see some of the pieces face to face one day.