Visual Art Impressionist Fact of the Day
posted by June 24 at 12:08 PMon
Last week we left Bazille by Monet’s bedside, helping Monet recover from a stray discus in the forest.
It was not the only time Bazille came to Monet’s aid (the mooch!):
Monet’s father had discovered that Camille was pregnant. The fact that his own mistress was in the same boat seems only to have increased his intolerance. He cut off Monet’s allowance altogether, making it impossible for him to support himself anywhere but at home in Le Havre, despite the fact that Bazille, with his parents’ approval, bought Women in the Garden for 2,500 francs (to be paid in monthly 50-franc instalments). Monsieur Monet was intractable, even when Bazille wrote to him on Monet’s behalf. Camille was left in Paris, under the watchful eye of Renoir and a medical student, while Monet returned to Le Havre for the summer. He began to bombard Bazille with letters, begging for money. The situation was unbearable, he had to leave Camille to give birth to their son by herself in poverty, in August, in their ground-floor studio in Pigalle.
Bazille responded to Monet’s pleas by promising help, but when this was not immediately forthcoming, Monet became desperate. Camille would starve, the baby would starve … and it would all be Bazille’s fault for not providing an endless flow of money. Clearly, Monet had always depended on his father to support his lifestyle and replenish his finances and was now attempting to transfer that responsibility to his friend. It hardly seems to have occurred to him that Bazille might not have limitless funds. Bazille sent more money. Monet spent it. Why was it gone already? Bazille asked, what had Monet done with it? Monet was unable to produce an explanation. Agonised by his predicament, he painted as many landscapes as he could, of Honfleur and Le Havre.
From Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of Impressionists, a slightly trashy book I’m reading in honor of the SAM show.
Monet’s Garden at Sainte-Adresse, near Le Havre, painted that desperate summer (1867) and now in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
*I’ve left off calling these dumb. Some are dumber than others, it’s true.