More impressions of Monet and impressionist masterpieces

Wang Jie
After more than a year of anticipation, "Monet & Impressionist Masterpieces" has finally landed at the Bund One Art Museum.
Wang Jie

After more than a year of anticipation, “Monet & Impressionist Masterpieces” has finally landed at the Bund One Art Museum.

“The exhibition was originally planned at the end of 2019,” said Xie Dingwei, the director at TX Cultural Development Ltd, “However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we had to postpone it at that time.”

Xie was surprised that only a few people asked to be refunded for their early bird tickets.

“Thanks for their patience and trust, now they can use the tickets,” Xie said.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) seems to be a favorite among China’s art fans. When it comes to Monet, long queues always appear outside the entrance.

It is hard to explain the overwhelming power of Monet, but his work does seem to cater to locals’ aesthetic taste and the Chinese love of “Impressionism.”

More impressions of Monet and impressionist masterpieces
Courtesy of Musée Marmottan Monet, Académie des beaux-arts, Paris

Claude Monet’s “The Saint-Lazare Station”

Organized by Musee Marmottan Monet and TX Cultural Development Ltd, the exhibition features 61 masterpieces on loan from Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris, 20 of which feature Monet’s impressionistic canvases.

Other big name impressionists being exhibited include Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and Auguste Renoir (1841-1919).

Although the exhibition doesn’t include “the best of best” of the works among the impressionists, it is still a rare show that gives a panoramic view of the artists’ impressionistic style during that time.

It is widely known that in the 1890s, at the age of 50, Monet bought a property of Giverny, Normandy. There he set about creating a garden, where he planted large numbers of flowers and dug a pond, which he lined with willows and spanned with a “Japanese” bridge. This garden became the sole subject of his late work. Outdoors, he painted small-format works, working directly from the subject and his large-format paintings were executed in his studio.

A special video titled “The Last Day in Giverny” of Monet and his garden is also screened at the exhibit; of which the visitors can experience the beauty and the magic play of light and shade in nature in Giverny. The film also reflects the former residence of Monet as if nothing has ever changed.

The last years of Monet’s life saw him go beyond Impressionism. He no longer painted what he saw — just his memory of nature. All his art was contained in the act of painting and the resulting canvases are all about the gesture of the hand holding the brush.

Monet worked so freely that it is sometimes difficult to identify the subject. These works herald abstraction. These daunting sized canvases in his latter years manifested the artist’s passion toward life and art despite the erosion of time.

For those who carefully inspect the names of the artists, they might find some interesting relationships among them. For example, Blanche Hoschede Monet (1865-1947) was the daughter-in-law of Claude Monet. She learned about painting alongside the master in Giverny but gradually gave it up after her marriage to his son Jean. When her husband died in 1914, she returned to Giverny where she looked after the painter in his final days. She also took up painting again. Her work, with its rural theme, follows the Impressionist tradition, seen in her 1929 “At the Water’s Edge” displayed at the exhibition.

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) was the first woman Impressionist. She loved to paint as a young girl and later studied with Corot, who introduced her to outdoor painting.

The sister-in-law of Edouard Manet, liked to paint figure studies, especially in her own milieu. “Woman with a Fan” in 1875, shown at the exhibition, illustrates the social circles frequented by the artist and her family. Morisot’s expressive brushwork conjures up the model’s elegant outfit and accessories.

More impressions of Monet and impressionist masterpieces
Courtesy of Musée Marmottan Monet, Académie des beaux-arts, Paris

“Woman with a Fan” by Berthe Morisot

Called the “Godfather of Impressionism,” Edouard Manet (1832-1883) embodies the beginning of what can be called modern painting. Slightly older than the Impressionists, he was once a model for the painters in that group, as well as a fellow traveler.

A classically trained artist, Manet copied paintings in the Louvre Museum in Paris, and completed his training by traveling around Europe. His copy of a painting by the Italian painter Titian (1488-1576) “Jupiter and Antiope” was made at the Louvre when he was 24. Throughout his career, Manet revealed a preference for familiar, contemporary subjects.

For example, “Portrait of Berthe Morisot Reclining” in 1873 is an illustration of this. The way the black dress is handled in the background, the belt is the only detail that stands out. It is one of the things that make it innovative. The work is also a token of the artist’s lasting friendship with Berthe Morisot, also a painter, who modeled for him for six years and later married his brother.

It is a pity the ballerina created by Auguste Renoir is not at the exhibit. But Renoir fans can be compensated by his small landscapes, such as “The Beach at Matigues” and “Antibes and Young girl and child in a Bucolic Setting.”

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was the oldest of the Impressionist painters. He also worked hard to promote the group’s interests, notably by organizing exhibitions.

Urban life was one of Pissarro’s major themes. Painted in 1879, “The Outer Boulevards, Snow Effect” is one of his first canvases on this theme.

Other highlights of the exhibition go to not so well-known artists.

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) was a pure landscape painter and his oil paintings are quite impressive and lyrical to viewers. “Apples Trees in Blossom” (1879) evokes a rural landscape at a time when the first buds are about to burst into color.

Since Paris and its surroundings were undergoing industrialization, he traveled far out of the capital by train to reach a preserved landscape he would represent in his paintings.

In 1880 Sisley was charmed by Noret-sur-Loing, a small town near Fountainebleau, a few kilometers away from Paris. He made it his home and took the surrounding bucolic scenery as the subject of his canvases, such as the “Summer of Saint-Martin’s Day” (1891).

Exhibition info

Dates: Through August 1, 10am-6pm
Tickets: 188 yuan
Venue: Bund One Art Museum
Address: 2F, 1 Zhongshan Road E1

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