Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Garden Of Painterly Delights

Claude Monet - Irises, 1900

'I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.'


The following is an excerpt from a special cable to the New York Times sent from Paris on May 15th, 1908:


Famous French Impressionist Artist Thinks His Work of Past Three Years Unworthy.


Unique Studies of Water Effects - Paris Art World, which Praised the Paintings, Astonished.

Pictures with a market values of $100,000 and representing three years of constant labour, were destroyed yesterday by Claude Monet, the French Impressionist master, because he had come to the conclusion that they were unsatisfactory.

The pictures destroyed had already been seen by the friends of the artist and by leading critics, who had pronounced them to be among the best works that M. Monet had ever accomplished. They were to be the feature of an exhibition of this master's work which was announced to open next week in the galleries of Durand-Ruel. The exhibition, which already had been advertised in the French papers, had aroused unusual interest among artists and amateurs, as it had been a long time since any new works by M. Monet had been placed on public exhibition.

At the last moment, while he was reviewing the pictures and superintending the framing of them, the artist became discouraged. He declared that none of his new works was worthy to pass on to posterity. With a knife and paint brush he destroyed them all, despite the protests of those who witness the act.

Pictures by Monet are currently selling from $6,000 to $10,000 each. The artist's action has aroused consternation in the art world. It has also raised the ethical question as to the artist's right thus to destroy his handiwork.

The pictures were unique, in that they constituted a series of remarkable studies reflecting water under different light effects.

M. Durand-Ruel, the senior member of he firm which in recent years has acted as agents of M. Monet, told the correspondent of THE NEW YORK TIMES this afternoon that while he was disappointed to be unable to hold the exhibition as advertised, M. Monet's actions showed him to be an artist, not a mere manufacturer.

"Such action is not unprecedented," he said. "Degas, for example, destroyed three-fourths of his production. It is a pity, perhaps, that some other painters do not do the same."'