14 May 2013

Nymph & Nymphaeas

what a thrill to see in Melbourne, 50 paintings by Monet, the guy we all know for his nymphaea (a.k.a water lilies). He began painting in Paris about 1860 and was accepted by the Paris Salon in 1865.  By 1890 he had purchased Le Pressoir  (a cider pressing house and orchard) west of Paris at Giverny where  he spent 20 years creating his garden, and fighting with the local council to get a permit for his pond. He had a rowboat made as a floating studio and spent the rest of his life recording the changing light on the pond, the bridge and the plants. Most of the works now at NGV usually reside in Paris so do try to see them here - think of the expense you will avoid. Since art is money and the money rests on the provenance, I always want to see the back of famous paintings, so here is a Monet and also his palette with the outer curve sawn off, probably when he
got too much paint on the cuff of the suitcoat he seems to have worn for painting.
The NGV missed the obvious opportunity unique to them, of covering their own ponds 

with waterlilies. Their giftshop was selling rubbery ones for $20.
After the art, the tart.    Nymphette Chloe
 - then with my dear friend and tolerant arty cohort Art Of Pants we had a delicious wine in the  Chloe room at Young and Jacksons, reputedly Melbourne's oldest surviving pub where the painting called 'Chloe' has always been the main attraction.
Painted by a contemporary of Monet, Jules Le Febvre, a medal winner of the 1875 Paris salon, she was purchased in 1880 by a Melbourne surgeon Fitzgerald. Melbourne was shocked when it saw her nudity on loan to the art gallery and she was removed to Dr FitzGeralds house where he hung her so she was visible from the street. Publican Young bought her in 1909. She hangs alone these days, but 'Young' was a big art collector and over 200 paintings, sketches and statues used to be on display throughout the hotel.

Do please click here for the story of how the damn commonwealth bank nearly ruined the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets (the same way they succeeded in ruining what had been a fine historic intersection in Ballarat); and here is a very very old photo of Y and J's before YandJ bought it.


  1. another 'Doctor' caused a scandal with a painted nude which had to be removed to his home from its public Ballarat hanging - Dr Blake Murders Ep.1 written by clever Stuart Page, clearly inspired by Dr FitzGerald and his Chloe history.
    "Chloe’s success established her as a fine work of art. She went on to travel both
    Sydney and Adelaide with equal success. Only when did she return to Victoria (from
    Sydney) to be displayed at the Galleries new opening time on Sundays, was there
    any scandal. The sight of nudity for the ‘Ladies Branch of the Anglican Social Purity’ was too much to ‘bare’. Dr Thomas
    Fitzgerald found it necessary to take back his kind loan of Chloe after 3 weeks of
    incredible societal backlash. The Argus received so much correspondence such
    that it dedicated a column to Chloe.† Dr Fitzgerald eventually hung Chloe at
    his residence in a front room visible to the public. This also was deemed
    unacceptable from certain members from the public, resulting in the move to a back
    room. † Henry Figsby Young purchased Chloe at Dr Fitzgerald’s estate auction in 1909. Young was considered an art collector and during his time at Princes Bridge Hotel, created a hotel that offered its patrons a fine art experience."

  2. I saw some of Monet's paintings at the National Gallery a few years ago. And was filled with awe and wonder. One of my brothers and his wife went to the gardens at Giverny a few years ago. Jealous thoughts.
    And I love the photo of Y and J's. And am unsurprised that the C Bank is a philistine. Money is all (not)!

  3. I went to the Golden Summers (Heidelberg School) Exhibition at the NGV over 20 years ago. You've brought back some memories there - like everyone, I vow to go more often! Was a litle lucky on my only visit to the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1991 - all of the French Impressionists seemed to be in town.

    Glad to hear you and Panyts had a lovely afternoon in good company.

  4. So this is where you're hanging out, Annie. Got you bookmarked now.