In conjunction with the Monet retrospective to take place in the autumn of 2010 at the Grand Palais, the Rodin Museum is presenting an exhibition-report centering on one of the masterpieces of its collections: the painting of Belle-Ile, by Claude Monet, that the painter probably gave Rodin in 1888, in thanks or exchange for La Jeune Mère à la Grotte, which the sculptor had just given him.
Two years previously, in the fall of 1886, Monet had isolated himself for six weeks to paint the rocky coast of Belle-Ile, struggling against sun, wind, rain and storms to produce a work of great virtuosity, a series of thirty-nine canvases of this wild cliff.
The master of impressionism and the most famous sculptor or his times shared a sincere passion for nature which united them in their quest for the same artistic ideal. They met regularly in the country, at Giverny, whether on official or social occasions or in more intimate circumstances.
In a few plaster casts, manuscripts, and other documents, this exhibition-report evokes the particularly rich and long relationship the two shared, one that was marked by their joint exhibition at Geroges Petit’s gallery in 1889. Together, though at Monet’s initiative, they contributed to the organisation of this tremendous exhibition which would celebrate these two precursors early on. Now that they possessed the keys to establishing their own rules, they would explore some of the richest paths of the origins of modernity.
«They had to be together. The one seemed to complete the other,» the press commented the day after the opening. “Rodin could not find a better framework for his sculpture than the paintings of Claude Monet. At first glance, one realizes that the two artists depend only on themselves. One is actually in their domain, and nature, here, is in hers. It is to her alone that they address themselves, mercilessly banishing any foreign influences.
The result is startling, new, original…. What they have found is life.»
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