Georges Clemenceau, Claude Monet and Alice Butler on the Japanese bridge in Monet’s garden in Giverny. This photograph was taken by Henri Martinie in June 1921. © Musée Clemenceau, Paris.
When Claude Monet died, Georges Clemenceau was there to pay a final farewell to his long-time friend. It is said that upon finding Monet’s coffin draped with the customary black pall Clemenceau snatched away the cloth and replaced it with a multi-coloured shawl, saying “Pas de noir pour Monet.” (Not black for Monet.)
Monet and Clemenceau were close friends; the twice Prime Minister of France was a vocal and very prominent supporter of Monet’s art at a time when some of the critics were still very hash in their criticisms.
Georges Clemenceau was the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. He led France during much of the final year of World War I, and was one of the key figures involved in the the Treaty of Versailles at the Paris Peace Conference in the war’s aftermath.
To celebrate Armistice (11 November 1918), Monet decided the day after to donate two of his very large paintings of water lilies to the state. But, it was Clemenceau who persuaded him to donate the whole project. And it is these paintings of the water lilies, the Grand Decorations, that are now housed in the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris.
A new book, Claude Monet – Georges Clemenceau: une histoire, deux caractères, that explores the relationship between Claude Monet and Georges Clemenceau by Alexandre Duval-Stalla and published by Gallimard, will be released in October to coincide with the opening of the Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais. You can pre-order a copy via Amazon here:
My thanks to MGN reader Julien Somter for drawing my attention to this new book.