Five important Monet water lily paintings will be brought together in Tate Liverpool’s major exhibition Turner, Monet, Twombly: Later Paintings from 22 June – 28 October 2012, two of which have never been shown before in Britain.
The Water-Lily Pond c1917-19 lent by the Albertina, Vienna, and Water Lilies 1916-19, lent by Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Basel are the works which will go on show for the first time in the UK. They will join three other Monet water-lily paintings in the exhibition: Water Lilies 1916 from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Water Lilies 1907 from Göteborgs Konstmuseum; and Water Lilies after 1916, on loan from the National Gallery to the Tate Collection. This will be the first time that five of Monet’s water lilies have been brought together in the UK for over a decade.
The five paintings form a major part of the exhibition, which looks at the stunning later work of the artistic greats JMW Turner (1775-1851), Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Cy Twombly (1928-2011). All three artists explore themes of mortality in their later work, and Monet painted these works, which display an interest in water and reflection in common with Turner, as a response to both his personal grief and devastating world events.
Jeremy Lewison, Curator, said: “The water lily paintings mark the crowning moment of Monet’s career and are among the most recognised of his paintings. To have five major examples in an exhibition is incredibly rare. Painted against the backdrop of the First World War, they represent an oasis of calm while all hell was breaking loose around him. For Monet these paintings assuaged his sense of personal grief. Mourning and loss are key themes in this exhibition for all three artists.”
Monet first painted water lilies, long associated in poetry with mourning, melancholy and death, at Giverny in 1899. These seemingly joyous paintings were executed during his step daughter’s long illness which led to her early death. He did not return to them again until 1907, an example of which will feature in the exhibition. The main body of his water lily paintings was started in 1914 just after the declaration of war. His son Michel was called up to serve at the front; Monet had lost his wife, Alice, in 1911 and his son Jean died in February 1914. The late water lilies, of which four will be displayed at Tate Liverpool, are not located in space; they seem to surround the viewer. For Monet, these works created a safe haven from the troubled world outside – he could hear the guns at the front while painting in his studio – and his own intense personal grief.
Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings will examine the art historical links and affinities between three artists who were all considered radical painters in their time, suggesting common characteristics and motivations underlying their late style. The exhibition will explore their shared fascination with light, landscape, the sublime and mythology as well as the painterly qualities of their work, whether as makers of figurative or abstract images. Displaying over sixty works, the exhibition will treat each artist in considerable depth, with rooms juxtaposing the works of two, or all three, of the artists. Works by Monet and Twombly will be drawn from museums and private collections across the world, while works from Tate’s Turner Bequest will be supplemented by loans from American museums.
Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings is organised by Moderna Museet, Stockholm, where it will be displayed until 15 January 2012, in collaboration with Tate Liverpool and Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (11 February – 28 May 2012). The exhibition is curated by Jeremy Lewison, formerly Tate Director of Collections and now an independent curator, assisted by Jo Widoff, Moderna Museet and at Tate Liverpool by Eleanor Clayton. Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.