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Pavia shows 'heart of Monet'

Loans from Paris, Ohio, Johannesburg, Bucharest

Pavia shows 'heart of Monet'

(By Denis Greenan). Rome, September 3 - A major exhibition on Claude Monet at the Scuderie del Castello di Pavia from September 14 to December 15 sets out to illustrate so-far neglected aspects of the life and career of the great French Impressionist painter. 'Monet au coeur de la vie' (Monet At The Heart Of Life) boasts 50 works, 40 by Monet, including loans from the Museé d'Orsay in Paris, the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, the Johannesburg Art Gallery and Bucharest's MNAR museum. Rarely seen Japanese silk-screen prints which inspired Monet are on show alongside a wide selection of letters from the Museé des Lettres e des Manuscripts in Paris. The show has been organised under the aegis of the French embassy in Italy and the Institut Francais de Culture in Milan. It is curated by Philippe Cros. Cros said he had attempted to select the art works and documents so as to "recount, to the fullest extent possible, the major stages of artistic production of the master from his formative years up till the effulgent glory of his late maturity". The Pavia exhibition is, therefore, a journey through Monet's life, told not only by the evolution of his painting but also through the voices of key figures he encountered along the way, shaping his personal and artistic development. A series of video-installations help the visitor through the key moments of the life (1840-1926) of the artist who helped found the Impressionist movement. These kick off with his first steps in painting, narrated by his father Adolphe Monet, with whom he had a stormy relationship because of his impetuous personal and professional decisions. The visitor can examine correspondence from Monet's first teacher, Eugene Boudin, which highlights his experiments with painting 'en plein air'. Some of the works on show convey Boudin's influence, such as 'Bateaux à Etretat' (Boats at Etretat). Monet's first wife, Camille Doncieux, played a key part in his ever more daring production from 1860 to 1879, as both his muse and favourite model, until her premature death at the age of 32. Monet's open-air painting techniques and studies of light were honed by his long walks along the Seine and trips to the seaside, also documented in letters on show in Pavia, as well as shining through in such landmark works as 'Bateaux de peche a Honfleur' (Fishing Boat at Honfleur), 'La gare d'Argenteuil' (Argenteuil Station) and 'Printemps' (Spring). Other letters include those from politician and statesman Georges Clemenceau, the many-time premier with whom Monet forged a close friendship in his later years. It was Clemenceau, in fact, who commissioned the famous series of water-lily paintings for the Orangerie in Paris. The artist's second wife, Alice Hoschedé, describes to the visitor Monet's continual journeys in search of new stimuli, inspiration and subjects, including his trip to Norway, when he studied the effects of light on snow. His and Alice's daughter Blanche, the only student Monet ever had, winds up the show by recounting her father's virtually obsessive love for his fabled garden at his home in Giverny.

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