Collection Spotlight: Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of our partner, the MFA Boston, we hear from them about their upcoming Monet show and take a look at collection highlights.

Monet Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Claude Monet (1840–1926) breathed fresh life into the art of painting. With a bold vision and radical approach that included a vibrant palette and visible brushwork, he proposed a new way of seeing and depicting the world. Artists and collectors came to France from near and far—from the US, Japan, and all over Europe—with hopes of meeting Monet and purchasing his work. His impact was far reaching, and today his works are beloved around the globe.

Fisherman's Cottage on the Cliffs at Varengeville, 1882 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA / Bequest of Anna Perkins Rogers / Bridgeman Images

Boston has been a centre for the collecting and appreciation of Monet’s paintings since the late nineteenth century. In honour of its 150th anniversary, the MFA celebrates a treasure of its collection: 35 oil paintings by this great artist, representing nearly the full span on his long career. Many of them were brought to Boston during Monet’s lifetime by members of the city’s vibrant community of artists and visionary collectors.

Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist's Garden in Argenteuil, 1875 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA / Anonymous gift in memory of Mr and Mrs Edwin S. Webster / Bridgeman Images

Katie Hanson, curator of Monet and Boston: Lasting Impression, opening in November at the MFA, https://www.mfa.org/exhibition/monet-and-boston-lasting-impression, speaks to the effect of viewing Monet’s art: “During his lifetime there emerged in art criticism in Paris and in Boston an idea that he trained the modern eye, and that he did it through his paintings. And I have to say, I certainly feel that I see the world differently after having spent so much time looking at his paintings.”

Cap Martin, near Menton, 1884 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA / Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection / Bridgeman Images

Monet found splendour and great visual variety in the everyday and in the spaces that he inhabited. He returned time and again to his favourite locations and motifs, utilizing vivid colour and varied brushwork to dazzling effect. The paintings can look deceptively easy, even cheerful. When his Grainstack series was shown for the first time in Paris, many viewers -American critics as well as French artists - commented on how luminous and happy the paintings looked and made them feel. However, when you go back and look at Monet’s letters - written while he was working on the Grainstack series - he describes himself as being “mad with rage” about the weather, and how he was unable to get exactly what he was seeing onto the surface of the canvas.

Grainstack (Sunset) 1891 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA / Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection / Bridgeman Images

Multiple paintings of the same subject in the MFA’s collection—the Creuse valley, the Rouen cathedral, the Seine river, meadows and grainstacks—show his exquisite sensitivity to changes of light, season, and viewpoint, and invite us to look as closely as he did.

Water Lilies, 1905 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet(1840-1926) / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Gift of Edward Jackson Holmes / Bridgeman Images

Among many viewers’ favourites are his paintings of the beautiful surface of the water lily pond in his garden at Giverny. It took Monet the better part of a decade to figure out that composition and to capture what he was seeing on the surface of the pond. His solution—the spreading of the water from side to side, from top to bottom—was extraordinarily new. Monet’s achievement of eliminating the horizon line, between sky and water or sky and land, and showing just the watery surface led a French critic to declare: ''No more earth, no more sky, no limits now''.

The Water Lily Pond, 1900 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA / Given in the memory of Governor Alvan T. Fuller / Bridgeman Images

Today the MFA is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world; the collection encompasses nearly 500,000 works of art. At Bridgeman Images, we're proud to represent the collections of the MFA Boston. Please get in touch with us if you'd like to utilise any of their assets for your projects - our teams are on hand to help!

Find all the Claude Monet works we represent with MFA Boston here.

Find all the MFA Boston images held in the Bridgeman archive here.


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