Posted by: jeannineatkins | July 14, 2007

Happy Bastille Day, Monet!

Today my husband and I saw an exhibit at the Clark art museum in Williamsburg, MA called “The Unknown Monet.” There were drawings and pastels that apparently Monet downplayed as the idea of doing sketches before paintings kind of downplayed the impressionist idea of spontaneity. There were wonderful caricatures, which were how Monet first made a living, through sketchbooks with quick black and white drawings of water lily patterns. Seeing those sketchbooks I felt awe. Really, they could be almost anybody’s sketchbooks, and I think that was what was so wonderful. All of us start with a line or a word. All of us can do anything from there. Okay, maybe we can’t all paint water lilies that will change how people see a pond, but it was a great afternoon wandering between small black and white images on paper and masterpieces in pink and blue oils. What an inspiration to look at a few hasty lines, seeing the small but focused spot where grandeur began.



  1. Is this the museum of one of the Clark brothers? There is at the Metropolitan, an exhibit of both brothers’ collection and I missed it when I was in NY, because I only had so much time and spent it at the gallery that was showing privately held Monets. How lucky you are to have access to at least one Clark.

  2. I love the Clark! My daughter headed up last week to see the exhibit, but I still have to go. It sounded wonderful.

  3. It is the Sterling and Francine Clark museum, but Sterling was one of the brothers — heir to the Singer, as in sewing machine, fortune, I believe, if my memory is correct. I wish I had more memory. That show orginited here but I missed it, which is too bad, and there is a pretty grim and twisted story about the family as subtext, which I read somewhere, but alas, also forget, except to think: oh, my! or something like that. This is what becomes of families with fortunes, but at least art lovers get to benefit. I will have to check, as I’d like to go back, but I can’t believe this show won’t travel as well. Sketchbooks were scanned so you could stand at computers and virtually flip through pages. And it did make you reconsider Monet, esp if what a friend told me is true — is he the painter who said that if you can’t paint someone between when he jumps off a bridge and lands in the river, then you’re not an Impressionist???

  4. Hi, Nancy! Yes, you will have to cross the border and go. It seems like the Clark is expanding, slowly taking over more of those lovely grounds. Seeing these sketchbooks is not at all like gazing at those water lilies or haystacks, but it makes you revisit them in your mind in a way that is intriguging — to see their simple beginnings. And, hey, it’s all a lot simpler than going to France.

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