If you love Claude Monet, you’re sheltering in place in Boston and you have X-ray vision, you’re in luck, because the Museum of Fine Arts has mounted a historic exhibition of Monet’s work, and you can see it for yourself with no one standing in your way.
“Monet and Boston: Lasting Impression” was to have opened April 18, but COVID-19 had other plans. You can preview it online at https://www.mfa.org/exhibition/monet-and-boston-lasting-impression, where you’ll find images, a talk with the curator, and musical impressions of the artist’s work.
You can even find 5 downloadable Monet images that you can use as backdrops for your Zoom meetings, or purchase the exhibition publication, to keep a piece of Monet’s artwork with you at home.
The exhibition comprises all 35 of Monet’s works in the MFA collection, the first time that all have been on display at the same time in 25 years.
The MFA celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and the Monet exhibition is the centerpiece of the anniversary celebrations.
Claude Monet, the beloved Impressionist and the perennial first choice of poster art for college dorm rooms, has enjoyed a presence at the MFA since the late 19th century.
The exhibition offers Monet lovers all of his greatest hits: examples from the Grainstacks, Rouen Cathedral, and Water Lilies series, as well as older works such as Rue de Bavole, Honfleur (about 1864).
In case you slept through art history class, the Impressionists were a 19th century group of Parisian painters who rebelled at the idea of creating boring, safe works that could be purchased for the living room of a bourgeois family.
Back then, artists’ works had to be approved by the Salon, the official art exhibition where Parisians bought paintings. The Salon viewed with disfavor anything other than landscapes and portraits painted in the traditional (read: dull as dishwasher) manner.
The Impressionists – Monet, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassett, Camile Pissarro, and others, didn’t want to imitate the previous generation’s stolid accomplishments. Instead, they wanted to paint outside, and not just in the studio, and they wanted to paint what they actually saw – specifically the light that fell on the objects they saw, whether those objects were fruit, moving water, the front of a church, or a crouching ballerina.
They actually banded together to create their own exhibition, which they called the Salon Des Refuses, which is essentially French for The Rejection Show. Impressionism actually takes its name from a Monet painting, Impression: Sunrise, a foggy morning at the port in Le Havre.
Bostonians quickly saw the value of Monet’s work and began buying it for the MFA while the artist was still producing his now-famous works.
The exhibition also presents Japanese woodblocks and other pieces that inspired Monet.
So check out the Monet link live – and before you know it, they’ll blow the all clear and you won’t need X-ray vision to see the paintings in person.