Update: The new dates for this exhibition are Sept 5, 2020–Jan 18, 2021
Claude Monet (1840–1926), often referred to as the “Father of Impressionism,” has long held a unique relationship with Chicago.
During his lifetime, Chicago was the American city that most aggressively acquired his work, with enthusiastic collectors like Bertha Honoré Palmer and Martin A. Ryerson leading the way. Indeed, Ryerson even made a special pilgrimage to visit Monet at his Giverny home in 1920 to acquire paintings by the artist. Private groups began to follow these individuals’ lead. In 1895, the Chicago Union League Club purchased Apple Trees in Blossom (1872) which was also shown at the Art Institute that year in the exhibition 20 Works by Claude Monet, the artist’s first solo show at a US museum. In 1903 the Art Institute became the first American museum to purchase one of Monet’s paintings, and today the museum’s 33 paintings and 13 drawings by the artist constitute the largest collection of works by the artist outside of Paris.
This exhibition is the first to explore Chicago’s pioneering connection to the great Impressionist artist. Among the more than 65 paintings—from the Art Institute’s exemplary holdings and esteemed Chicago-based collections—are beloved major works as well as rarely seen still lifes, figural scenes, seascapes, and landscapes. Spanning his long career, from early caricatures made at Le Havre to the last splendid canvases inspired by his garden and waterlily pond at Giverny, and informed by new technical findings, the presentation gives visitors a comprehensive view of Chicago’s ongoing relationship to the artist and a better understanding of his working methods.