by Victoria Saltzman, Director of Communications
Happy Bastille Day from Giverny! It’s just past midnight in France and the rush of the last two days has just culminated in a walk down Giverny’s “Main Street,” the Rue Claude Monet as fireworks burst into the night sky. It was the perfect celebratory exclamation point to the excitement of the last 48 hours as the Musée des impressionnismes marked the opening of its exhibition, La Collection Clark à Giverny, de Manet à Renoir.
Seeing the Clark’s French paintings in the elegant Musée des impressionnismes galleries is a thrill…both for the opportunity to reconnect with these wonderful works and to appreciate them in a space and arrangement that is very different from the Clark’s galleries. Set against walls of deep red, blue, and gray, the paintings seem to glow. Is it a conceit to think that Giverny’s much vaunted light is enhancing them in some unique way?
There is an unmistakable sense of magic in strolling out of the beauty of Monet’s house and garden and in to the Musée’s galleries. In one moment you are standing inside Monet’s studio and in the next you are standing in front of his Tulip Fields of Sassenheim. You can’t help but wonder what part of this painting was finished at the maison down the lane.
It is also very tempting to imagine how Sterling and Francine Clark would feel if they had had the opportunity to be a part of this moment. Many of these paintings have not been seen in France for more than 60 or 70 years since they became a part of the Clarks’ private collection. There is an unmistakable sense of delight on all sides at the notion of bringing these beautiful works back to their birthplace to be enjoyed by the people of France. Surely Mr. and Mrs. Clark would have taken great pride in bringing these paintings back to share them in this way.
In only its first day, the exhibition is proving to be a crowd pleaser. There were lines of people waiting to get through the doors as the Musée opened and the vernissage drew a wildly enthusiastic response. The Ambassador of Japan was among the dignitaries who filled the galleries. A contingent of the Clark’s Board of Trustees, led by president Peter Willmott were also on hand for the festivities. As Peter Willmott noted, the significance of bringing these paaintings to France at the time when Parisans are focused on their national heritage seemed particularly apropos.
From the Paris Metro stations, which are lined with huge banners hailing the Clark collection to the shady lanes of Giverny, there is great excitement that French audiences have yet another reason to celebrate: M. Monet and M.Renoir are back along with many of their amis.
Here are just a few of my photos from opening week:
Vive le France!