It's over 30 years since so many of Monet's masterpieces have been on display at one time, but for four months, until January 24, 2011, over 200 of the works of the French master can be see together in Paris under the marvellous glass roof of the Grand Palais.
From his early landscapes of Normandy and Paris, right up to the final, delicate works with which he tried to capture the full beauty of the garden and ponds at Giverny, for over 60 years, Monet, the undisputed master of the Impressionist painters, dedicated his life to his art.
Born in Paris in 1840, Monet went through various periods of hardship and in his letters tells his friends of his days "without bread, without wine, with no kitchen fire and without light." It wasn't until the late 1880s when he was living in Giverny that Monet found more success with his paintings and gained more financial stability, but now his works are auctioned for tens of millions of dollars.
This retrospective exhibition is also a great commercial venture and the paintings are not the only focus of attention. In addition to catalogues, books and magazines devoted to the father of impressionism, there will be scarves and bags printed with the bright colours and images from his work. His poppies and water lilies, his Mediterranean landscapes and views of the Normandy coast, the hazy cathedrals and portraits of women walking along the sea shore under fancy parasols will adorn paperweights, pins, ties, calendars and all kinds of knick-knacks.
It is clear that the exhibition devoted to the “painter of happiness” will enjoy great popularity: just a few days after tickets went on sale, nearly 90,000 people had already booked their visit on-line.
The exhibition is well worth a visit, but so, too, is the Grand Palais itself. Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the great H-shaped building has an area of around 775,000 square metres and boasts the largest glass roof in Europe. It can be seen at a distance and, for over a century, has been considered one of the landmarks of Paris.
Galeries nationales du Grand Palais des Champs Elysees