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Claude Monet’s Secret Garden at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Revisiting Monet’s painting prime.

Most who have gazed closely into a winsome, seemingly wind-stirred canvas by Claude Monet have sensed the Impressionist painter’s nuanced greatness.

“I remember walking into the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and hearing people gasp when they first saw Monet’s water lilies paintings, which are on permanent display there,” says Ian M. Thom, the senior curator-historical at the Vancouver Art Gallery. “That’s the kind of overwhelming wonder we want people to experience walking into our new Vancouver show, Claude Monet’s Secret Garden.”

Billed as the most important exhibition of the 19th-century French painter’s work in Canada in over two decades, this joint effort between Paris’ Musée Marmottan Monet and the Vancouver Art Gallery makes its only North American pit-stop in Vancouver from June 24 to October 1, 2017. With its debut, audiences will have a rare opportunity to view 38 paintings spanning the career of a man many consider to be one of the most pivotal figures in Western art history.

Spotlighting the years between the 1870s and 1926, the exhibit’s Monets feature diverse subjects, ranging from airy, light-filled scenes of the Parisian countryside, to views of the River Thames and several variations on his famous gardens in the French village of Giverny, where the artist lived from 1883 until his death from lung cancer in 1926. Throughout, Monet’s signature renderings of water lilies, weeping willows, and the Japanese bridge decorating his garden reveal his experimentation with portraying light and colour.

“The scale of Monet’s work is also quite surprising,” says Thom. “Three of the show’s largest paintings are three meters wide and one meter tall, which is an extraordinary scale to work in outdoors. Yet even if he painted a subject multiple times, Monet’s approach was in every way quite radical for his day.”

Claude Monet’s Secret Garden runs at the Vancouver Art Gallery June 24 to October 1, 2017.


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