Monet’s Étretat: Destination & Motif

Monet’s Étretat: Destination & Motif


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Centerpieces of the exhibition are two major oil paintings by Claude Monet on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of San Diego’s most anticipated art exhibitions of the season opens at Balboa Park’s Timken Museum of Art on September 8 and will be on display through the end of the year. Monet’s Étretat: Destination and Motif will be part of the Timken’s longstanding tradition of presenting intimate, significant exhibitions that focus on a particular theme, artist or work of art. Director of Curatorial Affairs Derrick Cartwright renews this tradition with an exhibition rooted in the artistic allure of coastal Normandy.

At the center of Monet’s Étretat are two major oil paintings by Claude Monet of the quaint fishing village and the surrounding majestic cliffs of Étretat: The Manneporte (Étretat) and The Manneporte near Étretat, painted in 1883 and 1886, respectively, which are on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Born in Paris in 1840, Monet visited this small fishing village on the Normandy coast dozens of times throughout his 86 years and painted it from numerous angles and under varying weather conditions.

“This exhibition celebrates one of Monet’s most enduring subjects – Étretat,” says Director of Curatorial Affairs, Derrick R. Cartwright.

Monet painted 20 views of the beach and the three extraordinary rock formations: Porte d'Aval, Porte d'Amont and Manneporte. As described by the Met: The sunlight that strikes Manneporte has a dematerializing effect that permitted the artist to interpret the cliff almost exclusively in terms of color and luminosity. Most 19th century visitors were attracted to the rock as a natural wonder. Monet instead concentrated on his own changing perception of it at different times of day.

Additional works also on display with Monet’s Étretat: Other artists also explored the site in the 19th century, drawn by guidebooks and other popular writing about the natural wonders of Étretat. To demonstrate this exploration and the productive exchange that developed between French and American artists during this time, Terra Foundation for American Art is loaning two significant American art pieces: The Cliffs at Étretat (1890) by William Henry Lipppincott and Sunset, Étretat (1892) by George Inness. To contextualize the experience, vintage photographs, 19th century promotional materials and period guidebooks from the University of San Diego’s Print Collection will also be on display.

“We are thrilled to give the San Diego community this unique opportunity to celebrate Monet with two exhibitions taking place at the same time in two of Balboa Park’s major art museums - the Timken Museum of Art and The San Diego Museum of Art,” said Megan Pogue, Timken’s executive director. Together the two exhibitions span Monet’s life; the Timken with works in 1883 and 1886 and San Diego Museum of Art’s piece in 1904 demonstrating the extent of Monet’s experiential painting techniques.”

In the ongoing pursuit to provide visitors with a multidimensional experience, the Timken is once again collaborating with the San Diego Symphony to introduce music into the museum’s galleries.   Monet’s Étretat is the second exhibition (the first was this past spring’s Witness to War) to include classical music choreographed by Nuvi Mehta, the Symphony’s special projects director. For an even further understanding and appreciation of Claude Monet and Étretat, there will be a video featuring interviews with Derrick Cartwright and Nuvi Mehta played on a continuous loop in the Timken’s rotunda. There will be free daily docent-led tours in six languages, free afternoon and morning gallery talks, docent spotlight talks and teacher workshop and evening lectures.

Support for this exhibition comes from:
Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Parker Foundation
Rembrandt Society
Supervisor Ron Roberts, County of San Diego
San Diego City Commission for Arts and Culture
San Diego Symphony
Terra Foundation for American Art