Monet sister Vetheuil paintings reunited in the US for first time

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Ann Hoenigswald, senior conservator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, looks at “The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil” (1881) by Claude Monet, unframed, with a version held by the Norton Simon Museum in the background. (AFP)
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Two paintings by Claude Monet, both painted in 1881 and titled “The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil” at the National Gallery of Art’s conservation laboratory in Washington. The one on the left is held by the National Gallery of Art, the one on the right by the Norton Simon Museum. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2018
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Monet sister Vetheuil paintings reunited in the US for first time

WASHINGTON: For the first time since they were painted more than a century ago, two oil paintings of Claude Monet’s garden in Vetheuil have been reunited, in Washington.
Monet moved to this village in the Paris suburbs in 1878 with his sickened wife Camille and their two young children as they faced financial difficulties, along with the family of one-time patron Ernest Hoschede.
The period that ensued was one of the most prolific for the French Impressionist, who produced in just three years nearly 300 paintings, including “The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil” (1881).
Until August 8, the National Gallery of Art is presenting two of four known works of this lush summer scene with huge sunflowers, including its own, larger piece and another temporarily on loan from California’s Norton Simon Museum.
“It’s a turning point in terms of his career, his struggles, he’s turning more toward landscape, he’s becoming more interested in atmospheric effects,” National Gallery curator of 19th century French paintings Kimberly Jones said in an interview.
The Norton Simon’s version, believed to have served as a model for its companion, is more heavily worked in most areas.
“Before these two pictures were together, we always described the handling of this one as quite loose because we didn’t have another example, and we had always believed ours was a study for the larger picture,” said Norton Simon assistant curator Emily Talbot.
“All of the things that have been published about these two pictures we’re starting to question just by having them in the same space.”
Where Monet layered meridian green thickly on top of cobalt blue to give more interest to the sky in the Norton Simon’s picture, in the companion piece it’s defined instead by contrasts of thick and thin, and patches of exposed canvas ground.
The National Gallery’s senior conservator of paintings Ann Hoenigswald spent months removing a discolored natural resin varnish from the museum’s masterpiece that had flattened the work visually.
“The minute I got the varnish off, it just soared,” she said.
“What I find really exciting is the energy of the brushwork. You see the richness of the impasto and the speed at which he moves his brush across, and all the bristles of the brush, or a little lip of paint that just comes straggling there.”
It was not until almost 10 years later, in 1890, that Monet began painting formal series each comprised of dozens of works depicting a single subject — the Rouen Cathedral, London’s Houses of Parliament or water lilies — at different seasons or times of the day usually from the same vantage point.
The garden proto-series “could be the germ of an idea that’s just starting to develop in his mind,” said Jones.


Life lessons from inspirational women: Abeer Nehme

Updated 32 min 2 sec ago
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Life lessons from inspirational women: Abeer Nehme

What I love most about my work is that it reflects my true nature. And it has allowed me to travel and meet people of different cultures. Music is my passport and it enables me to deliver a message and express ideas that any other language would have failed to deliver. I feel like my music is making a difference and spreading joy, hope and beauty.

Because I’ve traveled a lot and worked on a series of documentaries — “Ethnopholia: Music of the People” — I’ve met a lot of people who are not particularly famous, but who carry music in their hearts and lives. They have had a great influence on me as a person and as an artist. I feel so lucky to have met them. Along with my friends, they are like guardian angels. I believe every person we meet leaves their fingerprint in one way or another.

My list of musical influences is long. But it starts with my father. He had a great voice and also played the lute. He introduced me to traditional Oriental modal music when I was very young. That’s how my journey started.

Professionally, my biggest regret is the opportunities I maybe missed because I lacked maturity. But I consider all my experiences to be lessons, rather than regrets.

Personally, I regret not spending enough time with precious people like my mom, dad and siblings. I regret the time I did not spend with people who were so close to my heart and who unfortunately passed away. I cannot go back in time and make up for that.

As a woman in the music industry, the biggest challenge I’ve faced with men was to keep things professional and preserve boundaries. But sometimes men are actually easier to deal with than women.

I believe things are starting to change in our society, and women are starting to be more valued and appreciated. Women have a very important role to play: We are the symbol of life, of earth. We perpetuate life. What is more important than that?

Women should be given more opportunities in the political field. Men have been ruling the world so far and all we’ve seen is war, violence, bitterness… I believe women can come up with important changes if they could take political decisions. We have a strong ability to multitask, and endurance that exceeds that of men. I’m not saying men are less important, but women should be given more chances.