PARIS (AP) — Behind some great men, there’s an older brother. Claude Monet’s older brother is at the center of a historical exhibit in Paris highlighting the previously unknown role Leon Monet played in the life and art of the French Impressionist painter.
PARIS (AP) — Behind some great men, there’s an older brother.
Claude Monet’s older brother is at the center of a historical exhibit in Paris highlighting the previously unknown role Leon Monet played in the life and art of the French Impressionist painter. Leon – a color chemist four years his senior – is now credited with playing a crucial role in the emergence of Monet’s commercial success as well as the famous palette that created such masterpieces as his “Water Lilies” series.
“He was unknown before, but without Leon there really would have been no Monet – the artist the world knows today,” said Geraldine Lefevre, curator of the Musée du Luxembourg.
She said: His rich older brother supported him early in life when he had no money, no clients and was starving. But more than that. The bright color palette Monet is known for comes from the colors of synthetic textiles. Lyon dye. It was created “in the city of Rouen – the location of some of Claude’s most famous paintings.
The pioneering exhibition is the product of years of investigation by Lefebvre, who visited Monet’s great-great-grandchildren, studied family albums and discovered a remarkable portrait of Léon by Claude that Léon had hidden in a dusty private collection that had never been seen before. . The audience. The 1874 painting shows Leon in a black suit, with a stern expression and flushed cheeks, almost flush with wine.
The show dispels a long-held view that Claude and his older brother are estranged.
Historians always believed that the two brothers had nothing to do with each other. There was supposedly no picture of Claude and Leon together, no correspondence. In fact, they’ve incredibly shut down their lives,” Lefebvre said.
The brothers had a falling out in the early 20th century, and this may explain why there is no direct record of the relationship. “Maybe Leon got rid of the traces, maybe it was Claude. Maybe it was jealousy. We’ll never know. It’s a mystery,” Lefebvre said.
What is now known is that Leon drank and dined for his younger brother, introduced him to other artists, gave him money and patronized his art—and bought it at auction at high prices to improve his reputation.
“One of the problems was that they shared the surname (Claude) Monet apparently bought his own paintings. But it was Lyon,” said Professor Francis Fowle, chief curator of French art at the National Galleries of Scotland.
“This exhibition is important because it highlights Léon Monet, who until then was an unseen figure. It also reveals the larger painting in the work. Léon was a major figure,” Fowle added.
Léon’s influence exceeded that of his brother: he financially supported other Impressionists such as Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley, some of whom invited themselves around a dinner table in Rouen, where wine flowed freely. Claude followed his brother to Rouen, where he painted masterpieces for Rouen Cathedral.
Monet also worked with his older brother as an assistant colorist, a pivotal moment not only in his life – but perhaps in the rise of Impressionism as we know it.
Leon dissolves carbon to produce a chemical called aniline, which produces amazing synthetic colors that natural dyes can’t compete with. An earlier example of Monet’s art being called “the color of the lion” comes from an illustration from the 1860s—before he became famous—that appeared in the exhibition. Monet painted his future wife, Camille, in a striking green dress that he had never seen before.
“The French press coined the term ‘Green Monet’,” said Lefebvre, adding that journalists laughed at him at first. At the time, they said he would be a good pigment. »
However, Monet had the last laugh.
Claude Monet established Impressionism—a term derived from his 1872 painting Impression, Sunrise—to become one of the most popular painters of the past two centuries. At the height of Impressionism in the late 19th century, “80% of all Impressionist works” used industrial colors borrowed from Lyon, according to Lefebvre.
These compositional figures, sophisticated for the time, allow the group members to present a fleeting impression of a moment with changing colors and flashes.
Who knows the exact extent of Leon’s influence on movement? Lefebvre said with a shy smile.
Leon Monet. Artist and Collector’s Brother” is on display at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris from March 15th to July 16th.
Thomas Adamson, Associated Press