Monet and the Water Lily Pond…in Birmingham!

“It took me a long time to understand my water lilies…. I grew them without thinking of painting them…. And then, all of a sudden, I had the revelation of the enchantment of my pond. I took up my palette.”

—Claude Monet, 1924

Monet and the bridge

Monet’s garden was his inspiration in his later years and it is a real delight to welcome ‘A Water Lily Pond’ to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, for a short stay.


The Water Lily Pond- Claude Monet 1900 © Art Institute of Chicago

This is such a beautiful and tranquil scene: the depth of colour makes you feel that you are standing on the edge of the pond, gazing into the shadows formed by the willow in the background.  Pink, white and red of the flowers of the water lilies dot across the surface and where there are breaks, the water reflects back the foliage.  The technique that defined Impressionism is in abundance here. Wet on dry gives the shapes of the flowers and the daubs are thickly applied.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 3.59.28 PM

The angle of this painting causes your eye to travel up and over the bridge and into another part of the garden outside the canvas, so it is easy to imagine yourself in Giverny.

The work is with the gallery until 10th September.

For a detailed look at the painting, this link to the online catalogue at AIC is an excellent resource.

AIC Online Catalogue

Picasso comes to Birmingham

Like Byron, Pablo Picasso seems to have been “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.  I heartily recommend Sue Roe’s ‘In Montmatre’ for an insight into the early work of Picasso, Matisse et al. It was a delight to read and made going to see his ‘Woman Sleeping in a Chair’ from 1927 at The Barber Institute such a good plan.  picasso

You don’t often get a gallery to yourself, so going early on a Monday just because it was the only gallery in Birmingham open that day was such a brilliant idea – I also got to get up close and personal with Turner’s ‘The Sun Rising Through Vapour’ But that’s another story.

The painting is allegedly of his mistress Marie-Therese Walter and the story goes that he saw her walking in the street, approached and said, “Mademoiselle, you have an interesting face. I would like to paint your portrait. I am Picasso’. Week later, they were lovers – well, you would, wouldn’t you!

The painting is intriguing as he was also having problems with his marriage – quelle surprise! The rounded, undulating figure and closed eyes are in start contrast to the open mouth, with its sharp teeth and even sharper tongue.  A spectacular visitor to a beautiful gallery.