Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Claude Monet

In a recent post, I wrote about a day trip to the Monastery of Montserrat high up in the mountains outside of Barcelona. As well as the impressive Basilica which houses a famous Black Madonna, there is a wonderful art museum on site. It is not very big but holds some impressive pieces of art and artefacts. It was worth an hour of my time.

From the website –

Most of the works of art that are housed in the Montserrat Museum have been donated to the monastery by private citizens. The Monks at the Monastery see it as their duty to display the artworks for those visiting Montserrat as a promotion of culture. This ideology originates from a previous monk at Montserrat called Father Bonaventura Ubach. He collected archaeological, ethnological and zoological artefacts during travels to the Middle East and brought them back to the Monastery.

I would like to share a few of my favourites.

At the entrance, a Guadi inspired sculpture of St George, the patron saint of Catalonia

Old Fisherman, painted by Pablo Picasso in 1895 when he was just 14 years old.

Unhappy Nelly, by Edgar Degas, 1885

Madeleine by Ramon Casas, 1892

The Tapestry Merchant by Maria Fortuny, 1870. I love the detail in this painting.

Café des Incoherents, Montmartre by Santiago Rusiñol

Le Givre, temps gris (Frost, Grey Weather) by Claude Monet 1877

Here is a short and very amateur video of the room of Black Madonna paintings and sculptures in the museum.

An then, as I left the museum, I noticed someone had left their clothes neatly folded in an alcove outside. There could be a story there. (and you wonder where I get my ideas!)

I stopped to purchase a jar of honey made on site by the monks and was thankful for a very special day in Montserrat.

I can’t believe it is almost a year since we drove to Paris and saw the most amazing sights. I’ve written about it here, here and here. But I haven’t yet mentioned my visit to the fabulous Musée d’Orsay. It was on my list of things to see it but was not sure we would have time. It was our last day and we had a couple of hours free in the late afternoon. My friend said, “Let’s go!” I am so glad we did as it was incredible. Seeing works of art I have admired all my adult life, made my heart sing!

The building itself is a masterpiece. It’s located in the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The building, no longer used as a railway station, was scheduled for demolition when the idea of using it to display collections of art from the period of 1848 to 1914 was suggested. In December of 1986 the museum was opened to the public.

Visitors are greeted by the magnificent decor of this former train station that came so close to being destroyed. I was gobsmacked the minute I walked through the doors.

One of the first paintings that caught my attention was Millet’s The Gleaners. I have always loved this painting of women collecting leftover grain after the harvest. Perhaps because of my rural background.

On the next wall I spotted Corot’s Le Moulin de Saint-Nicholas-lez-Arras and burst into tears. For the first ten years of my working life I was employed by a wonderful German woman who owned a gift shop in Medicine Hat, Alberta, called Ed’s Studio craft. She imported many things from Europe and was an art afficianado. She taught me so much about business, art and culture. We sold among other things, art prints and art cards. She gave me many wonderful gifts over the years which I treasure, including an art card depicting this painting. She sadly passed away at a young age.

Le Moulin de Saint-Nicolas-lez-Arras by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. I always wished I could step inside that painting.

Of course there were many, many more of my favourites. Here are just a few.

Claude Monet’s Poppies

Renoir’s Dance at Le moulin de la Galette

Renoir’s Dance in the Country

Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone

Van Gogh’s The Church at Auvers

From the roof top of the museum is a great view of Montmartre with the imposing La Basilique du Sacre-Coeur (Cathedral of the Sacred Heart)

Inside, looking through the clock with Sacre-Coeur in the background

Because it was once a train station, there are a number of impressive clocks in the building to add to the atmosphere. Perhaps telling us that art is timeless and stirs emotions from the past, the present and the future.

To view these works of art in this amazing place is a must. I wished we had more time but I plan one day to return.

Have you been to Musée d’Orsay? Or any art museum that stirred your soul?

When our friends inquired what I wanted to see while visiting them in France, I asked if Giverny, the home of Claude Monet, was near. They said it was only one hour away and would be happy to take us there. I am so glad we went to this magical place. It felt like I had stepped into a Monet painting.

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Monet’s garden

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The village of Giverny is storybook delightful and I can see why Monet chose it as a place to live, paint, garden and raise his large blended family.

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The village of Giverny

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The gardens are simply breathtaking. This was Monet´s happy place and it is evident he was inspired by the amazing array of shapes and colours. I gazed mesmerized at the well-known and oft-painted lily pond.

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And I stood on the same bridge I have long admired in his painting. Not only was this visit a dream come true, it felt like a living dream!

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

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“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ” – Claude Monet

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A profusion of colours

His charming house is incredibly comfortable with views of the gardens from every room. As I entered, I half expected Monet to be there welcoming me as he did many guests in the past. His art and that of his contemporaries adorn the walls of all the rooms as it did when he lived there. His spirit permeates the rooms.

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Monet’s house in Giverny

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My favourite room was the sunny, cheerful kitchen. I imagined Claude, Anne and their eight children laughing and chatting as they shared meals.

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We visited the Impressionist Art Gallery on site and had a lovely meal overlooking part of the garden. I stopped at a small shop in Giverny and bought the perfect, handmade French hat to remember this auspicious visit.

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Water Lily Pond with Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet

I could have stayed all day, but alas it had to end. This is now my happy place which I will return to in my mind many times. Thank you, Alain and Cathy, for taking me here!

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Friends in the garden

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

The photographs by Darlene Foster, Paul Foster and Cathy Marsen 


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