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A Change in Scenery

The Speed Art Museum eagerly welcomed Claude Monet’s “Nymphéas” to the scene last April

By Elizabeth Scinta Photos provided by The Speed Art Museum The click-clack of my heels echoed off the floors and walls of the empty Speed Art Museum as Erika Holmquist-Wall, the Chief Curator and Curator of European & American Paintings & Sculpture of the Speed Art Museum, led me up the grand staircase. At the top of the white marble stairs is a gallery that has housed Claude Monet’s “Nymphéas” since its loan period began in April. “While this painting has timeless appeal for everyone, it feels like an important moment to be able to share it with our visitors. First of all, Monet is known for the waterlilies, and Monet is about as famous and recognizable of a name as you can get. Even people who barely know anything about art recognize the name,” Holmquist-Wall elucidated. “Monet’s popularity over the years has made him a household name in art history, and the waterlilies are inextricably linked with his name.” When one thinks of Monet, the waterlilies come to mind. Similar to “Mona Lisa” and Leonardo da Vinci or “The Starry Night” and Vincent van Gogh. The name goes with the painting, but what about the history and meaning of the piece? During the summer, Monet would pack his bags and travel to the North of France to paint the exquisite scenery and subject matter that lay before him. However, as he grew older, escaping to the countryside every summer wasn’t as enjoyable or feasible, so he decided to create his ideal artistic environment. So, in 1883, Monet purchased land in Giverny, France, where he began to craft a splendid waterlily pond and surrounding gardens that would fuel his creativity for the remainder of his life.

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