Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lots of people will protest that it's quite unreal and that I'm out of my mind, but that's just too bad... Claude Monet

This photo of Monet in his third studio at Giverny was taken in the 20's - check out the size of that palette.

Among the frustrations that plagued him as he sought to finish his water lilies panels were some problems with his eyesight. He suffered from cataract problems and a rare condition called xanthopsia:

"Monet is most upset by the colors; he sees everything yellow," noted opthomologist, Dr. Coutela, in 1923. By the next year, he'd had several operat
ions and the xanthopsia no longer plagued him. He continued work on the water lilies and received ongoing communication and encouragement from Prime Minister Clemenceau. Problems with his eyes continued to drive him to distraction. "It's disgusting, now I see everything in blue!" he explained to visiting Professor Jacques Mawas in 1924. "How do you know you are painting in blue?" the professor asked. "By the tubes of paint I choose."

Special glasses were made for him that helped a good deal, and once more he dove into his work. Apparently he was somewhat mercurial, working feverishly and then stopping for days and not painting at all. He had plans to bequeath to his country the best of the water lilies (what he called the Decorations, designed to adorn the walls of a large room). I guess frustration with government was common in his era too. In 1920 he sniped, "I will bequeath the four best series to France, which will do nothing with them."

Here's The House from the Garden, painted in 1922, the year before he died at age 86. Apparently, during the latter years, he could no longer back up 15 feet or so and still see the work well. You have to wonder how much of the increasingly abstract nature of his work was due to eyesight and how much was artistic vision and intention.

1 comment:

  1. Suzanne, I just "discovered" your blog (thanks to a comment you posted at Art Ravels) and am enjoying it immensely. This particular post about Monet and his eye problems caught my attention. Are you familiar with Lisa Mueller's poem "Monet Refuses the Operation"? If not, I am sure you will appreciate it. Find it at the following link:

    I featured it on my own blog a few weeks ago.

    Warm regards,
    LLL from The Alchemist's Pillow