The Boldness of an Emperor and the Serenity of an Artist

Written by Alana Jolley

June 14, 2013

Monday morning, June 9th we decided to split-up and Michaelin and I went to the Musee de L’Orangerie museum, where the famous Monet “water lilies” murals take up two entire oval rooms.

Lee went to the Arc de Triomphe of Napoleon to get a view of Paris from on high.  He did not want to leave Paris without seeing this famous landmark, built by Napoleon as a monument to himself in 1806. It was modeled after the Arch of Titus in Rome, built in 82 AD.  Lee describes Napoleon’s Arc as the “hub” of the bicycle wheel of Paris.  The streets of Paris are the spokes, as shown in the picture below.

At the De L’Orangerie, besides Monet, there were also a lot of Renoir (my most favorite) and paintings of other well-known French artists.  Michaelin said when in Paris I MUST see the French artists!  I have always enjoyed Monet’s work, but I gained a new appreciation after viewing the murals that were the main focus of his artistic production during the last thirty years of his life.

Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.  The water lily paintings were inspired by his own garden in Giverny, France where he reproduced the serenity and solitude, which he enjoyed there.

I was introduced to a French painter I had never heard of before, Andre Derain. My favorite painting exhibited is named “The Kitchen Table” – naturally that would be my favorite!  However, the painting was inspired by Lucretius’s “La Naturale,” a manuscript, which was lost to the world for 1,000 years.  The story of how the manuscript was found, in 1417 by a scribe named Poggio is the topic of a book, The Swerve, which I read last year – and which I have since adopted as my pseudo name for my blog and emails!

If you search for images of Derain’s paintings you will discover what a prolific artist he was and why his paintings are so famous (at least to the French), though he painted many London scenes as well. Below is “The Kitchen Table.”

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