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  • Writer's pictureAlexa Bouhelier-Ruelle

Monet on the French Riviera: Grimaldi Forum’s summer exhibition

One of the largest Monet exhibitions, "Monet In Full Light" features the beloved painter’s life on the Riviera, including a never-before-seen painting.

Claude Monet French Riviera Grimaldi Forum
Claude Monet Villas at Bordighera, 1884 Oil on canvas 61 x 74 cm Hasso Plattner Collection

To mark the 140th anniversary of Claude Monet's first visit to Monte-Carlo and the Riviera, the Grimaldi Forum Monaco will devote its major summer exhibition to the impressionist from July 8 to September 3 2023. Bringing a hundred or so works from all over the world together in an area of 3,000 m², the exhibition will be one of the largest monographs devoted to Claude Monet of the decade, and without doubt the most daring. The exhibition will follow Monet's work and the artist's life on the Riviera at a pivotal moment in his life. The exhibition, with more than 100 paintings from around the world, including many masterpieces that have rarely been shown together - and one that has never been seen before - will offer a new perspective on the Master's work.


At the crossroads of chronology and theme, the Grimaldi Forum’s exhibition, curated by Art Historian Marianne Mathieu, will provide keys to a better understanding of the painter's quest through exceptional scenography created within the museum space and offering total creative freedom. A veritable expert in Impressionism, she created the International Relations Center at the Musée d'Orsay in 2003, then served as the scientific director of the Musée Marmottan Monet for ten years; in 2022 she founded the agency ACPA - Advising Curating Producing Art. A specialist in Impressionism, she has curated heritage exhibitions in France and abroad for more than twenty years. She is also the author of several essays and books on Claude Monet and on Impressionism.


"I want to paint the air where the bridge, the house and the boat are. The beauty of that air where they are, which is nothing short of impossible…. The subject is secondary, what I want to reproduce is what is between the subject and me". -Claude Monet

Claude Monet French Riviera Grimaldi Forum
Claude Monet Canotiers à Argenteuil, 1874 Oil on canvas, 61,9 x 80 cm Nahmad Collection

The prism of light on the French Riviera

In 1883, halfway through his long life and settling in at Giverny, Claude Monet, still in search of inspiration, made his first trip to Monte-Carlo and the Riviera, which he discovered with his friend and fellow Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. So taken with the famous light of the Riviera, he returned alone in 1884 and again in 1888. In Monte-Carlo, Roquebrune, Bordighera and Antibes, he nourished his quest, –his obsession– to capture light. As a northern painter, he discovered a new palette of colours, and new elements, and found it difficult to paint them. It was during his final stay in Antibes in 1888, that he envisioned his famous series of paintings from Salis beach, the fort of Antibes in all seasons. As Marianne Mathieu explains:


"Monet's work is very coherent. From his youth in Le Havre to the last paintings in Giverny, the painter does not try to paint a motif, but rather a moment; Monet does not paint a landscape, but an atmosphere. On the Riviera, between 1883 and 1888, this means maturity; Monet discovers himself as the painter of the series.”


In this exhibition, the curator invites the visitor to approach Claude Monet's work through the prism of light: "let's not ask what Monet paints but rather when he paints it; let's not look for a motif, but for a moment..."

"If I paint what I see, people won't believe their eyes…I leave [them] full of enthusiasm, I feel I will do wonderful things". -Claude Monet
Claude Monet French Riviera Grimaldi Forum
Claude Monet Water lilies, 1914-1917 Oil on canvas 200 x 200 cm Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris ©Bridgeman-Giraudon / press

A Unique Exhibition

The exhibition strives to put the master's work into perspective, showing his quest to capture light. Around a section devoted to paintings created during his time on the Riviera, 25 exceptional works will be exhibited for the first time near the still preserved sites where they were originally painted. In all, more than 100 paintings will be presented, dating from the beginning of his life to the end. "Monet In Full Light", with paintings rarely shown together, is organised with the exceptional support of the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Other masterpieces will come from private collections and major international institutions including the Palais Princier de Monaco, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, the Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal and the Fondation Beyeler in Basel.


If you are a fan of impressionism, make sure to plan a trip to this summer’s exceptional Monet exhibition. Presales of tickets are on special for only €7 (until 30 June)!


"Monet In Full Light"

8 July - 3 September

Grimaldi Forum Monaco

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