Friday Favorites 6/24/2011

I’m traveling to Washington, DC, next week on business but I hope to find an hour or two to visit the National Gallery.   I’ve loaned them Renoir’s Girl with a Watering Can, a Friday Favorite in August of last year, and I want to be sure they are taking good care of it.  As I said back then, my favorite artist of any era is Claude Monet but Girl with a Watering Can may be my favorite painting.  Does that seem inconsistent?  How can my favorite painting not be by my favorite artist?  I think it comes down to Monet’s body of work.  Claude Monet did things with light and color and atmosphere … the very things that characterize Impressionism … unmatched by any other artist.  While I can easily settle on my favorite Renoir, there are so many of Monet’s works that I love … his water lilies come to mind … that in the end, I settle on a series of paintings – The Rouen Cathedral series.  Monet painted the cathedral over thirty times at different hours of the day and in different weather, not only capturing the variations in light and color but the changes in mood.  Yes, I’ve loaned the National Gallery Rouen Cathedral, West Facade and Rouen Cathedral, West Facade, Sunlight, too. Very generous, don’t you think?  This one is my favorite:

Rouen Cathedral, West Façade, Sunlight, 1894

To really appreciate the Rouen Cathedral series, you have to do two things: First, you have to see one in person.   When you do, start by standing close to the painting (I usually stand so close the security folks wander over just in case I can’t resist the urge to touch).  Take in the delicacy of the brush strokes and the hundreds of shades of color that make up every inch of the work … how beautiful it is, even up close where you can’t really see the cathedral itself.   Then slowly step back and let the West facade of the cathedral assemble itself before your eyes, glistening in the sun or shrouded in the fog.  You will know … you are in the presence of genius.   If you can’t experience one of these paintings in person, the National Gallery classroom online displays several of the Cathedral series … and when you pass your cursor over the images, it acts as a virtual magnifying glass so you can see it up close.

The second thing you need to do is see several side by side.  Again, if that’s not possible, Columbia University has a remarkable site where you can not only see 26 of the cathedral series side by side, you can watch the paintings change as the sun moves across the sky.  Sometimes, I just love the internet.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of the work of my favorite artist, Claude Monet.  Do you think I’d make a decent docent?

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8 Comments on “Friday Favorites 6/24/2011”

  1. territerri Says:

    Decent? No. “Excellent” is probably a more accurate description. Your passion for art comes shining through in this post. Thanks for opening my eyes to a subject to which I’ve previously paid very little attention. Going to check out those websites your recommended now…

  2. Monet was a genius. Thanks for your insights.

  3. There are six Rouen paintings side by side at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. I saw them four years ago. It’s absolutely stunning to walk into a room full of art you studied in one class in college, so early in the morning, in winter, that you could barely be bothered to pay attention. Standing right in front of them takes your breath away. I have a friend who actually cried. They’re an amazing series. Thanks for the reminder.

    • oldereyes Says:

      Some work comes across fairly well in prints (I think Toulouse-Lautrec is a good example) while some is just a pale imitation of the real thing. In part it’s just scale. I am not a Dali fan but when I saw his Sacrament of the Last Supper at the NGA, I was stunned by the size and how it seemed to be illuminated from behind,

  4. Hi Bud. It’s the transatlantic diablog. We hope you remember us? We do remember you, as we come by at least once a week.

    Do you know how New York City looked like in 1968? We have some special video footage from back then. It’s quite special. we hope you like it.

    Good luck for your trip to D.C.

  5. Thanks for the link to the Columbia University site -amazing and beautiful -for sure! Keep posting great art like this and who knows, maybe someday I’ll actually know and understand a bit about that topic.

  6. […] C. (1892 – 1894) Rouen Cathedral Series (incomplete collection) [Oil on canvas] At: (Accessed on […]

  7. […] 27. Monet, C. (1892 – 1894) Rouen Cathedral Series (incomplete collection) [Oil on canvas] At: (Accessed on […]

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