Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

In the Artists' Footsteps; Marvel and Despair at Two Greats' Starkly Opposite Fortunes

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

In the Artists' Footsteps; Marvel and Despair at Two Greats' Starkly Opposite Fortunes

Article excerpt

TRAVEL

with Ann Rickard

THEY had not been on my travel bucket list, but two experiences in the one week are now embedded in the memory as exceptional.

First, Monet's Gardens in Giverny, about 30 kilometres out of Paris.

While, like most of us, I am familiar with the Monet lily pond paintings, nothing could compare to strolling the gardens Claude Monet created and loved, to be where he lived and painted, to sit in the beautiful gardens he captured so richly on canvas.

I had to share the gardens with hundreds of others who flock there every day in summer but it did not detract from the pleasure.

The Japanese garden, the bamboo, roses and weeping willows, the ponds, the bridge, the little boat - all exquisitely maintained and now a living museum of scenes so many of us have admired on canvas and in myriad prints.

Monet loved to paint everyday things: lily ponds, landscapes, ladies strolling the gardens with parasols, families picnicking. A visit to these beautiful gardens brings the works to life and gives a connection to the impressionist artist.

Secondly, the Van Gogh connection in Auvers-Sur-Oise, a sleepy town about an hour from Paris, where Van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life.

Standing in front of the mairie (town hall) and looking at the plain building and then at Van Gogh's glowing painting of it on a nearby panel was thrilling. Then to wander to the church he painted, to look first at the old and dignified church and then to Van Gogh's depiction against a dark blue sky was to feel a strong intimacy.

In Van Gogh's room at the Auberge Ravoux, the modest inn he lived in for those 70 days, the connection was even deeper.

Van Gogh's mental torment is well documented in the many letters he wrote to his brother Theo, and it was profound to stand in the room where he suffered so much. …

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