Published  01/06/2006

Orangerie revived

The Musée de l'Orangerie at the Tuileries Gardens in Paris has created a brilliant coup in opening up the galleries by the removal of a poorly judged, second level gallery. Claude Monet's extensive painting of water lilies had always been conceived as catching natural light through changing conditions, but the second floor galleries had previously blocked this. Monet's 'Les Nymphéas' had been installed in situ by invitation of Georges Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister, in a skilful installation following the artist's death in 1926, aged 86. As Monet wrote in 1909, 'These landscapes of water and reflections have become an obsession for me. It is beyond my strength as an old man, and yet I so want to render what I feel'. The series of paintings at the Orangerie are wholly unique on account of their length and height, and it has been commented how the paintings come close to abstraction. Now the removal of that second floor literally floods the 'Nymphéas' with natural light.

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