My breath escapes without my will when incredible beauty in nature or art it is my good fortune to encounter. With leisure my cousin Maryann and her son and I walked through the galleries of impressionist paintings the Cleveland Museum of Art borrowed from an assortment of sources.
Most of the work in this show consisted of paintings of flowers. Monet was quoted as having said, “…if it were not for flowers, I might not have become a painter…” The audio accompaniment to the paintings explained that the cultivation of gardens, particularly flower gardens helped people to survive the horrors of World War II.
After seeing a fine impressionist show at the Chicago Institute of Art over a decade ago with other cousins, I thought I had already seen the cream of the crop, and indeed some of the best known pieces were there including Renoir’s Dance at Bougival, 1882–1883, in which the woman at left is painter Suzanne Valadon whose son was Maurice Utrillo, also a painter.
The current show includes pieces by Monet I had never seen before, even in books, such as a series of Weeping Willow trees among the lilies in the ponds and some so unlike his usual soft pastel colors because they reflected his exasperation with the second World War in progress during his years at the easel.
There were stunning views of irises, one of his favorite flowers, and while none are delineated to the extent that I could actually recognize the specific blooms, I felt like my own irises could have been among them.
I really liked seeing the deeper colors of the palette used by Emil Nolde which I had also not seen previously. All of the major players from that period of time were represented.
One of the most magnificent groupings was of all three pieces of the huge triptych of the lily ponds – only one of which the museum owns, the one at the far left. When these three siblings might again appear together, if ever, remains to be seen.
Each time I visit the Cleveland Museum of Art, I am convinced that it is a local treasure and I often tell people who are coming to Cleveland on business or just to visit family, they owe it to themselves to see one of the best art museums on this side of the Louvre.