To get to the Marmottan, I walk through yet another one of Paris’s beautifully kept parks. This one even has pony rides. The museum itself is an elegant mansion on the edge of the greenery. It has three floors, each featuring a different collection. There’s the illuminations from middle age religious manuscripts, the collection of art and artifacts collected over centuries from the Marmottan family and the Monet stuff.
The place is practically deserted. I begin to wonder if the end of the world happened and I missed it. I squelch the urge to find the nearest satellite television and tune into CNN. Instead, I head for the Monets, which just happen to be in the relative safety of the basement, which has been rebuilt into a grand museum space.
This collection was donated by Monet’s son and is quite impressive. Tons of Monet paintings, sketches and even an old palette of his. Also displayed is Monet’s collection of work by his friends and peers, among them, Renoir, Morisot, Rodin, my buddy Pisarro…
I like Monet, but find a lot of his work spotty. There are periods where his work soared and then other periods, not so much. I guess that’s the curse of living a long life.
Monet lived to the ripe old age of 87. He did not die impoverished and unappreciated. I guess that’s the benefit of living a long life, if you happen to have any talent. He was making a good living which enabled him to live his final couple of decades in a gorgeous environment of his own creation—his house and gardens at Giverny (add Givererny to my “to go” list). He apparently died bitter and cranky despite the fact that he lived what seemed like a pretty idyllic existence. Of course, he did have advanced cataracts and had been legally blind for at least 10 years, which had to be a real bummer. You can actually see the effect of his cataracts on his later paintings.–they’re practically unrecognizable and there’s a reddish/mauvy cast, which is apparently how cataract sufferers see things.
Like Van Gogh, Monet tried to kill himself in his early years. But only once (Van Gogh tried all the time). In Monet’s case, at the time, his girlfriend was pregnant, he was broke and unappreciated and it seemed to be an isolated crisis rather than a way of life or being a drama queen. He married in 1870, his first wife died in 1879 and he remarried a family friend (Alice Hoschede) who was helping him raise his sons in 1892, a year after her husband died (she died in 1911). One cool, slightly perverse fact: Monet’s son from his first marriage married Alice’s daughter from her first marriage.
Judging by the photographs, In his younger years, Monet appears to have been a real hottie. And now he’s single (dead, but single)! I know all I need to know about Monet. I must visit Giverny.
Address, hours and reviews of the Musee Marmottan
Filed under: art, art history, culture, france on a budget, french culture, history, Impressionists, Paris, tourism, travel, travel humor | Tagged: Alice Hoschede, art, Claude Monet, Impressionists, Musee Marmottan |