Monet’s garden in Giverny headed for İstanbul in SSM show

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) is set to bring a selection from French Impressionist »»

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) is set to bring a selection from French Impressionist Claude Monet’s works to İstanbul in its upcoming exhibition next month.

The exhibition, a joint effort with Paris’s Marmottan Monet Museum, is scheduled to open on Oct. 9 and continue until early January at the museum, located on a picturesque hilltop overlooking the Bosporus in the Emirgan quarter.

The exhibition, “Giverny Bahçesi” or “The Garden in Giverny,” is named after the northern French village where Monet settled in the early 1880s and where he created his celebrated flower garden and water garden pictures. The exhibition will not only turn the spotlight on Monet’s work but also to the rise of Impressionism, a time when art critics lost their credibility.

Claude Oscar Monet was born on Nov. 14, 1840 in Paris and grew up in Le Havre. He started painting with cartoons and drawings and it wasn’t until he met French landscape artist Eugène Boudin in 1858 that he started to move outdoors, to paint landscapes. From that point on, painting waters, the skies, trees and people outdoors became his priority in art. Monet also attended workshops in Paris, where he studied with and met several of the era’s notable artists, including Constant Troyon, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Édouard Manet, in what can be billed a remarkable twist of fate.

This group of artists -- who were later to be called Impressionists -- never took an interest in painting historical or religious themes; instead of painting exotic themes, they turned towards the tangible world; the outdoors, light and, mainly, landscapes. Their works were being turned down by the Académie des Beaux Arts (the French Academy of Fine Arts) and so they decided to open their own independent exhibition. They put on a dozen such shows, which were initially mocked by established art critics of the time.

One of Monet’s paintings in one of these “independent” exhibitions in a photographer’s studio in Paris, “Impression, Sunrise,” was to give its name to the movement -- albeit inadvertently. The painting, displayed in the group’s first independent show, received a bad review from art critic Louis Leroy, who wrote for the Le Charivari newspaper. Headlined “The Exhibition of the Impressionists,” the article read: “Impression -- I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it … and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.”

That painting, which Monet made in 1873, is currently part of the permanent collection of the Marmottan Monet Museum.

These independent exhibitions and the critical reaction to the new movement were the beginning of a three-decade war between artists and critics in France. Yet the war was won by Impressionists, whose works started to impress art lovers very soon and find buyers on the market.

The main problem was in fact a very little one; critics at that time were used to inspecting pictures on display in exhibitions from a very close distance, but that caused the loose brush strokes on the canvas to seem like meaningless commas. But when looked from a distance, the result was a miracle.

As for Monet, he devoted himself to discovering the poetry in nature. He worked on his garden in Giverny for 12 years, creating the perfect landscape for his trademark paintings. Until his death in 1926, he continued painting the water lilies, the weeping willows and all kinds of flowers and plants in his garden.

The paintings Monet created in the last 30 years of his life in his garden make up the bulk of the selection that will open in İstanbul’s SSM next month. The exhibition will also feature portraits of Monet and his wife, Camille, a signed Renoir, as well as a selection of personal belongings such as the artist’s glasses, his palette and his smoking pipe.

“Giverny Bahçesi” opens on Oct. 9 at the SSM, where it will remain on display until Jan. 6.


Arts & Culture