The Secret Art Collection of Claude Monet Displayed for the First Time

The “secret” art collection amassed by Claude Monet, the father of Impressionism, went on display for the first time in Paris

The exhibition, called Les Impressionistes en privé: 100 chefs d’oeuvre de collections particulieres (Impressionist works from private collections, 100 masterpieces), is being held by the Marmottan Monet museum to celebrate its 80th anniversary.

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature, especially as applied to landscape painting.

Claude Monet via

He kept the paintings upstairs in his private apartments at Giverny far from prying eyes and he didn’t keep records of what he bought. While the great and good came to visit him as he painted his famous water lilies, only a privileged few were allowed to see the canvases he kep for himself.

His final mural-sized paintings depicting the pond on his Giverny estate feature water lilies and water emerging from almost-abstract compositions of broad strokes of bright color and intricately built-up textures.

Shortly after Monet died at age 86, the French government installed his last water-lilies series in specially constructed galleries at the Orangerie in Paris, where they remain today.

I am selfish. My collection is for myself only…and for a few friends

once the artist said.

So Mathieu and her colleague Dominique Lobstein had to hunt down the 120 works, which included several by Manet and Boudin and more than 20 albums of prints by the Japanese artist Hokusai.

Renoir’s 1874 painting “Madame Monet and Her Son.” Credit Courtesy National Gallery of Art

The artist began building his private collection when he was still on the breadline with gifts from other painter friends like Renoir and Manet.

The works come from private collections all over the world, including the UK. Many donors have preferred to remain anonymous, but the exhibition contains paintings loaned by Pérez Simón of Mexico, Texan corporate lawyer Erich Spangenbergl, Scott Black (who contributed a Cézanne, a Monet and a Degas portrait of the artist’s father), and the Nahmad and Larock-Granoff families.

Marianne Mathieu, deputy director of the Marmottan and joint curator of the exhibition, said:

Almost all of these paintings have rarely, if ever, been seen in public for many decades. They come from 51 private collections, half of them in France, half in the rest of the world

For the Marmottan, putting on an exhibition about Monet the collector proved difficult. But if you have the chance to make a visit please notice that the show runs until January 2018. For sure it worth the effort.

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