I’ve long been a fan of Monet and seeing his recent show at the Vancouver Art Gallery reminded me once again of his brilliance – literally, his shining, his light. Cycling down the Seine to the sea in the 1970’s, I spent hours viewing his canvasses at the Orangerie and at his final home in Giverny. In the 1990’s I was fortunate to see more works in a Boston show: “Monet in the 90’s”. The VAG show included more of his later paintings when cataracts affected his sight if not his vision. Cataracts steal not only acuity and resolution but also diminish colour saturation. It was fascinating to see various versions of the Japanese bridge, increasingly portrayed in burgundies, and deep greens and blues, as he painted what he saw, not what he knew. Clemenceau, French Prime Minister and close personal friend, finally prevailed on Monet to undergo cataract surgery, a few years before his death. It apparently took Monet some time to reconcile himself to the required thick glasses.
Last week, on a chance visit to Robert Held‘s art glass studio in Parksville, I saw how he, too, had been affected by a visit to Giverny; on his return, he’d created the exquisite vase pictured above, with its reflecting, metallic waterlily pads, superimposed on the transparent glass evoking Monet’s painting. I can understand his unwillingness to sell this, his first work after returning from such an inspiring place.