Tag Archives: Monet

L’Orangerie and Monet’s house

Two days ago, after a great visit to the Louvre including many amazing exhibits and even some imitating of the poses of the sculptures in the gallery, we walked through the square to l’Orangerie, passing by a large portable arena with loud music and “Streetball: World Championship” written across the side of it. Though none of us on the trip had ever heard of Streetball, there seemed to be a large following of spectators.

When we continued on to l’Orangerie, a collection of Monet’s large water lily murals, I remembered when our guide told us the meaning of the French word, “orangerie.” He said that the word came from when the French nobility wanted to have orange trees in their beautiful gardens, but they ran into a problem. Orange trees cannot survive in the frigid temperatures of France’s winter. The nobility created rooms indoors that they could put their orange trees when it was cold and called them orangeries. I felt like the name of the museum was very fitting because it made me think I was walking into an indoor garden, and the paintings were living plants.

I think that L’Orangerie is one of my favorite museums that we have seen in Paris. Because the murals surrounded each of the walls I felt like I was present in the garden. I could sit and look at the paintings for hours. One thing that I found interesting was the way the water seemed to swirl because of the curved lines that he painted over the pond. I wondered if the pond in his garden actually looked that way. Well, I would find out the next day when we drove to Giverny to see Monet’s garden, and not this time through his paintings, but in real life.

Yesterday, when we visited Monet’s garden the gardening was just as beautiful as I expected. The gardens smelled strongly of the flowers’ perfume and they were maintained impeccably. While looking at the water, I could see the rippling and constant movement of its surface depicted in Monet’s paintings. I think the hundreds of frogs, fish and other critters that were living in the garden created these swirls. The only thing that I was a little surprised and disappointed about was the large amounts of other people visiting that day. Overall, visiting L’Orangerie and Monet’s house were unforgettable experiences and I am so glad that we had the chance to see both of these incredible sights.

Monet

When we went to Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and garden it only really hit me how cool it was when we saw the famous bridge over the water lilies. I kept hearing people around me talk about how walking over the bridge was ‘like being in one of his paintings.’ It brought me back to all of the paintings I saw at the Musée d’Orsay. I still couldn’t make sense of the fact that it was the same place. He managed to create so many different feelings and almost different worlds in all of the different paintings of the same place. It really is hard to wrap your head around the idea that he felt he needed to, as the guide told us, obsessively paint the water lilies over and over. He saw something different each time and I think that shows how he had an entirely different mind set than most.

Walking around his house, you could see all of the different paintings he had hanging up, representing all of these different perceptions of different artists. From people to colors to angles and expressions, it was like walking around with a special set of lenses. It reminded me why I value art so much, not that I forgot, but it just reinforced the feeling, I suppose. It made it all that much harder to accept the fact that some people just might not value art as much as it is actually worth. It reminds me of the quote from the movie Dead Poet’s Society in which Robin Williams’ character tells his class: “The human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” I think about that quote a lot.

Beauty and sadness in Normandy

We just finished up our second day in Normandy, and tomorrow we depart for the Loire Valley. Our experiences here could not have been more different from our experiences in Paris, though I think we all continue to be dazzled by France’s beauty.

ImageI think a number of people in our group were particularly taken with our stop at the home of impressionist painter Claude Monet in Giverny. It’s clear that many of the students knew more about Monet than I did, but for me it was a surprise to learn that he was as equally skilled at gardening as he was at painting. The gardens he kept were stunningly beautiful, and to walk through them is as close as one can come to physically entering into one of his paintings. His gardens are rich and lush, and they dazzle the eye with their masterful manipulation of light and color. To take a walk through Monet’s gardens is to better understand his genius as an artist.

ImageAs much as I enjoyed our visit to Giverny, I was even more moved by today’s visit to the cemetery at Omaha Beach. More than 9,000 American soldiers from WWII are buried here, many of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944 or in the fighting that followed over the course of the next several weeks. Since my own father fought in the European Theater, this visit was especially meaningful for me. He didn’t join the war until after D-Day, but just being there really brought home the sacrifice that all the young men–boys really–of that generation made during that war. Looking out over the choppy sea, you can almost feel the ghostly presence of the nearly 200,000 soldiers who stormed the beaches on that grey, stormy day, straight into the teeth of German machine gun fire. And the field of white crosses, while beautiful, evokes an incredible sense of sadness and respect not only for those who died but for those who survived what had to be a nightmarish day of horror.

AfteImager Omaha Beach, we visited the small town of Arromanches where we went to the Musee Du Debarquement. Here I learned far more than I ever knew about the incredible engineering feats undertaken to ensure the success of the D-Day invasion–most notably the creation of an artificial port that allowed supplies and reinforcements to be brought ashore immediately following the capture of the beach. This was a task that had to be completed in a matter of days while under heavy fire, and the fact that the Allies were able to pull it off is an amazing testament to the ingenuity and cooperation of the generals, admirals, engineers and political leaders of America, Britain and Canada. It was so heartwarming to see how much the people of this region of France appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of all involved, even to this day. In fact, I would hazard to say the people here know far more about the details of the D-Day invasion than the average Amercian.

ImageOur final stop in Normandy was the picturesque town of Bayeux, where we viewed the Tapestry of Bayeux–another incredibly important historical artifact that I’d never heard of. This was a last minute addition to our itinerary–thanks to Dr. Wheeler–and what a fantastic addition it was. This tapestry is over 200 feet long and was created in 1070 to commemorate William the Conqueror’s successful invasion of England in 1066. What makes the tapestry special, besides its size and its age, is that it consists of more than 50 scenes that depict the full story of this conquest. Unlike most pieces of medieval and even ancient art that depict a specific event, this tapestry conveys a whole narrative. At the time it was created, it was a perfect way to share that narrative with a population that was largely illiterate. That the tapestry has survived more than 900 years is practically a miracle. Getting a chance to view it up close was a special treat for all of us.