Claude Monet is surely in the top 5 of popular painters. He had success fairly early in his career and made money. However, his father was at first opposed to Claude’s desire to be an artist and, although he posed for his son, he didn’t provide financial support. Monet’s aunt, who had been promoting his endeavors with money, stopped helping him. “I’m utterly shaken,” Monet wrote to a friend. There were lean years during his first decade as a painter when he repeatedly painted his wife, baby, and acquaintances. Through it all, he never gave up on his desire to be an artist.
Ruth and I went to Fort Worth to see “Monet; The Early Years” on its final day, January 29. There were so many people trying to get into The Kimbell Museum that the hours were extended and it was difficult to get close enough to see the 55 paintings in this unusual exhibit. The last work on view was completed in 1872, when Monet was 32. It’s the first gathering of Monets to focus on his formative years. It shows he was destined to be an art-world superstar while in the process of developing his visual landscape and becoming an Impressionist. My favorite Monet, “The Magpie”, was among the works on view. I didn’t know until I saw this early collection that Monet spent several months in Holland in 1871 and became fascinated by its windmills and canals. He did about 30 paintings there, and some of them are in this show.
Many of the paintings were from France or from private collections, so this was our only opportunity to see them. I was glad to find out that this exhibit, which prohibited photography, will travel to another city, San Francisco. It will open at the Legion of Honor there on February 25, 2017, and be on view until May 29. Besides Fort Worth’s Kimbell Museum, this will be the exhibit’s only other venue. If you have an opportunity, it’s worth the effort to see it.
I thought about Monet’s determination to become an artist when I finished a book this morning. The last chapter of Sara Wheelers’s old but still wonderful book about Chile, Travels in a Thin Country, begins with this quote from Billy Two Rivers, a Canadian Mohawk Chief. “Love many, trust few–and always paddle your own canoe.”
The painting at the top is Monet’s “Marine View with a Sunset”, which he painted when he was 35, and the one below is an example of his famous wheat stacks. Neither is in this exhibit.