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Monet: painting light in Bordighera

We are on January 17, 1884. Claude Monet is about to leave. A few weeks after going to the Riviera with his friend Auguste Renoir, he reiterates the trip. It is worth painting this light which gave him a real slap, like a new challenge. From the station, he writes to his art dealer and patron. Paul Durand-Ruel: "I am leaving full of enthusiasm. It seems to me that I am going to do marvelous things".

Until September 3, 2023, the Grimaldi in Monaco explores the artist's stays on the Riviera at a pivotal moment in his life through a journey punctuated by nearly 100 paintings from around the world.

Claude Monet, Les Villas à Bordighera. 1884, © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais. Patrice Schmidt
Claude Monet, Les Villas à Bordighera. 1884, © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais. Patrice Schmidt

The 79 days of Claude Monet's stay in Bordighera – from January 19 to the beginning of April 1884 – will be a real dive into Mediterranean light and nature. And this exploration, he wanted to do it alone, to live intensely his progress, his doubts, his moments of abandonment and enthusiasm. This is why Monet begs Durand-Ruel not to tell anyone and especially not Auguste Renoir that he is returning to the Ligurian coast and precisely to Bordighera "one of the most beautiful places we have seen during our trip".

Claude Monet, Les Villas à Bordighera. 1884, Art Institute Chicago
Claude Monet, Les Villas à Bordighera. 1884, Art Institute Chicago

Claude Monet had just moved to Giverny with Alice Hoschedé, who had become his partner after the death of his wife Camille 5 years earlier. What was supposed to be a separation of two or three weeks will last nearly three months. Alice will be waiting for her with their blended family of 8 children (Claude's two sons, Alice's two sons and four daughters). Hosted at the Pension Anglaise, at the foot of Bordighera Alta, Claude Monet painted 38 memorable canvases in the surrounding area.

Claude Monet. Voie romaine à Bordighera. 1884. Musée Barberini Potsdam
Claude Monet. Voie romaine à Bordighera. 1884. Musée Barberini Potsdam

Monet will write: "...I made a lot of crap at the beginning, but now I want this magical country, and it is precisely this marvelous side that I want so much to render. Obviously many people will cry at the improbability, at the madness, but too bad, they say it well when I paint our climate. When I come here, I had to bring back the striking side. ". After a 9-day stop in Menton where he found the means to paint 11 additional canvases, Claude Monet returned to Giverny on April 16, 1884.

He will return to paint on the Riviera and in particular in Antibes in 1888.

In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...




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