Monet & Architecture at the National Gallery (London)

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871

“Other painters paint a bridge, a house, a boat, I want to paint the air that surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat – the beauty of the light in which they exist.” – Claude Monet

The French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) is best known for his brilliant paintings of landscapes, coastline and water-lilies, but this month saw the opening of a new exhibition ‘Monet & Architecture’ at the National Gallery, London.

This show highlights his interest in architecture, not only compositionally, but how he used it as a backdrop and tool to capture the changing effects of light and I was fortunate enough to catch it this week!

Bringing together over 75 of Monet’s paintings from all over the world, the rooms are unconventionally grouped following architectural subject matter, The Village & the Picturesque, The City & the Modern and The Monument & the Mysterious.

The idea of creating paintings based on ‘picturesque ideals’ influenced Monet’s early work and this concept was part of the larger ‘picturesque landscape’ debate originating in England.

Professor Richard Thomson, the curator of the show, explains,

“One of the points of this exhibition was to take a very famous artist, who people think they know, but to take a look at his work in a different way

The Village & the Picturesque

William Gilpin, 1724-1804, Hints to form the taste and regulate ye judgment in sketching landscape | © The Yale Center for British Art

In 1768, an English priest, artist and schoolmaster William Gilpin published a series of works “An Essay on Prints.” (see manuscript) describing what he coined as a ‘picturesque view’.

Gilpin wrote down notes and sketching techniques of his journeys through various parts of Britain detailing the natural beauty of the landscape and illustrating the work with his own pen and wash sketches. He described picturesque as “A term expressive of that peculiar kind of beauty, which is agreeable in a picture.”

He published his notes as sketching guidebooks for tourists to learn how to observe a view and also how to arrange elements within a composition to create a pleasing subject.

Elements of the picturesque should be “full of variety, curious details, interesting textures, and roughness and irregularity” marking a new appreciation for the rugged landscape and finding beauty in old buildings placed in rustic settings.

Claude Monet, The Hut at Sainte-Adresse, 1867

Claude Monet, The Hut at Sainte-Adresse, 1867 | Ville de Geneva, Musees d’art et d’histoire.

Born in Paris but brought up in Normandy, Monet’s journey begins here in the North of France, with its rich heritage of medieval buildings and strong architectural history. He spent the Summer of 1867 in Sainte-Adresse near Le Havre and painted this view of The Hut at Sainte-Adresse from a modern villa he was staying in.

Rather than paint the modern architecture of the day, he chose to focus his gaze on the rugged shoreline and crumbled down fisherman’s hut and you can see elements of Gilpin’s description. The variety of shapes and colours, textures of the greenery, the roughness of the sea and the irregularity of the fisherman’s hut, alongside brilliant sparkling passages of colour.

Claude Monet, Windmills near Zaandam, 1871

Claude Monet, Windmills near Zaandam, 1871 | Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Travelling to the Netherlands in 1871, Monet was captivated by Holland’s windmills and colourful houses, here he used strong flashes of a rich orange-red to give energy and movement to the sails.

Claude Monet, Houses on the Banks of the Zaan, Zaandam, 1871

Claude Monet, Houses on the Banks of the Zaan, Zaandam, 1871 | Stadel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

In this painting, we can see a great example of the use of square brush strokes to indicate the movement of the water, the strokes keep with the same width but vary in length. By choosing a composition that already has coloured elements within the painted houses, Monet used these reflections to add colour throughout the scene.

By placing these simple blocks of colour next to each other you have movement and an ‘impression’ of the subject.

“When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you,” he said. “Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you.” Claude Monet

Thinking in these abstract terms about the subjects you’re painting is often the essence in capturing a realistic rendering of what you see in front of you.

Claude Monet, The Old Bridge over the Nervia at Dolceacqua, 1884

Claude Monet, The Old Bridge over the Nervia at Dolceacqua, 1884 | Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA


Close up of The Old Bridge over the Nervia at Dolceacqua with sample ground colour swatch

It was really great to see some of the unfinished painted sketches around the show and above you can see the underpainting tone Monet used. Many of the canvases look to be painted onto an off-white, muted light grey tone with a little warmth to it. 

Claude Monet, View of Bordighera, 1884

Claude Monet, View of Bordighera, 1884 | The Armand Hammer Collection

Throughout the exhibition, we follow Monet’s journeys along the Normandy Coast and to Vernon near Giverny but by the 1880’s Monet had begun to travel more and for extended periods.

Inspired by the picturesque ideals, Monet took advantage of the new expanding network of European railways and followed the tourist guidebooks looking for inspiration in the south of France.

He arrived at the Mediterranian coastal resort of Bordighera in mid-January 1884, bright sunshine and blue skies led him to this iconic view of Bordighera and later to the amazing colours of Antibes. The colours of the works here are vivid and jewel-like, in comparison to the muted tones in his earlier work. The amazing light of the Riveria inspired a new saturated colour palette.

“The point is to know how to use the colours, the choice of which is, when all’s said and done, a matter of habit. Anyway, I use flake white, cadmium yellow, vermilion, deep madder, cobalt blue, emerald green, and that’s all.” – Claude Monet, 1905 

These are other colours known to be used by Monet:

  • Lead White (modern equivalent = Titanium White)
  • Chrome Yellow (modern equivalent = Cadmium Yellow Light)
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Viridian Green
  • Emerald Green
  • French Ultramarine
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Madder Red (modern equivalent = Alizarin Crimson)
  • Vermilion


Claude Monet, Snow Effect at Giverny, 1893

Claude Monet, Snow Effect at Giverny, 1893 | New Orleans Museum of Art

From the luminous colours of Antibes, Giverny in the snow shows a much more subtle handling of the subject.

Monet was always responsive to the changing light and how the weather affected a landscape and here the snow effect acts almost as if the scene is enveloped in a thick snow fog. Monet has built up the surface texture to indicate the different elements of the composition. You can just make out the line of trees in the background and the actual surface texture of the painting is quite thick.

Claude Monet, The Water-Lily Pond, 1899

Claude Monet, The Water-Lily Pond, 1899 | The National Gallery, London

In 1893 Monet and his second wife Alice made Giverny their home and it was the beautiful gardens here that inspired his most famous work of the water-lilies.

In 1899 Monet painted several canvases of the Japanese bridge within his garden, this square composition was a new way of working for Monet and a break from the traditional landscape ratios. It came after the death of his first wife Camille and marks a sense of harmony and calm against the discord in his personal life at the time.

The City & the Modern

Claude Monet, On the Boardwalk at Trouville, 1870

Claude Monet, On the Boardwalk at Trouville, 1870 | Private Collection, Milan

The ‘Exposition Universelle’ in Paris 1867 initially inspired Monet’s exploration of modernity for a collection of urban cityscapes for sale.

Ocasionally he would explore Paris and London enjoying the newly completed buildings and the port of Rouen for the hustle and bustle of the crowds but ultimately his more relaxed economical country retreat proved more enjoyable.

Many years later, a more affluent Monet would return to London, a city he very much enjoyed but he would focus more on the play of light and reflections over the water rather than the architectural details.

In these two paintings, On the Boardwalk at Trouville, 1870 and The Thames below Westminster, about 1871 we see two examples of different views, in different countries, yet both looking at new modern subjects at the time.

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871 | The National Gallery, London

The strong perspective elements reflect this sense of modernity and speed. The horizontal line of the boardwalk and bridge, balance out the strong diagonal. Even when the compositional elements are very similar, by changing the hardness or softness of the edges, Monet creates an entirely different mood and atmosphere.

Claude Monet, View of Rouen, 1872

Claude Monet, View of Rouen, 1872 | Private Collection courtesy of Pyme Gallery, London

I was drawn to this small study as I loved Monet’s strong use of tonal values in the painting to control the gaze. The view is of the port of Rouen, (Monet’s brother ran a chemical works there). The viewing position is from a boat on the river Seine and captures the juxtaposition of the spires of the cathedral with the modern motifs of the chimneys of the factories.

The highest contrast section is the boat in the foreground and Monet uses the vertical lines of the masts, chimneys, spire and trees to again combine the colours of the land and the colourful reflections in the water, as one.

Claude Monet, The Promenade at Argenteuil, 1872

Claude Monet, The Promenade at Argenteuil, 1872 | National Gallery of Art Washington

This view in Argenteuil is just outside Paris, and I love the simplicity of the composition. The strong dark silhouette of the trees on the right frame our view and the little ping of white sails on the left, give us a focal point. The distant landscape is muted and blurred to give that sense of depth and atmosphere whilst little dashes of dappled light on the path just dance across the canvas.

Painting in collections

In a previous article ‘a painting truth you can learn too late‘ I’ve written about the power of painting in collections and in the exhibition rooms covering Rouen Cathedral and London, it was interesting to see how Monet often painted a series of the same (or similar) view but with a different colour palette or time of day.

He was aware of the business of painting and often painted a collection of pieces together so they would hang well as a show and offer a range of colours and styles and architecture.

The Monument & the Mysterious

Now we’re up close and personal with Rouen Cathedral and the start of a repeated style that crops up again and again throughout the show. What I found interesting was the back story, the stories behind the viewing position where Monet actually painted from.

It appears at first glance to have been captured from the streets below, amongst the tourists, but it was actually painted from inside the first-floor room above a fashion shop opposite.

On these painting expeditions, Monet stayed at Louvet House, Home of Madame Louvet. He set up a studio above a clothing shop at 23 Place de la Cathédrale and the next year above the shop at 81 Rue Grand Pont. This enabled Monet to work on larger scale pieces and start to paint ‘in collections’.

During this time in Rouen, Monet was becoming more and more interested in trying to capture the changing light conditions.

Paintings recorded the shifting effects of light and shadow at different times of day and during variant weather conditions, so he would prepare a number of the same sized canvases and then swap between them as the light changed.

You usually have between 1-2 hrs of painting time before the light begins to change the colour temperature and shadow patterns you first observed.

From his painting position, the sun began to hit the front of the Cathedral just after 12 noon, Monet, therefore, insisted on ‘being at work from midday to two o’clock’ to capture this effect.

However, this was no easy task, Monet wrote commenting on his Rouen paintings:

Things don’t advance very steadily, primarily because each day I discover something I hadn’t seen the day before… In the end, I am trying to do the impossible.Claude Monet

From The Encyclopedia of Impressionism by Michael Howard (Carlton, 1997)

Room with a view

Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, the Sun in the Fog

Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, the Sun in the Fog, 1899-1901 | National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Monet’s paintings of the London fog remind me of the snow scene of Giverny, smokey and thick, caused by a combination of industry and nature, there’s a reason London is known as ‘The Big Smoke’!

To capture these iconic views I had images of Monet battling the elements, bustling for the same spot each day to carry on with his paintings ‘en-plein air’, wrapped up warm, against the biting wind and dampness from the river.

The reality?

His vantage point was a suite at the Savoy Hotel!

Now here’s an artist I can get behind.

He first stayed there for two months as the balcony on the 6th floor of the Savoy Hotel proved the perfect spot to capture views of London starting his day facing towards Waterloo Bridge and the South Bank, enjoying the morning light.

Claude Monet, The Houses of Parliament, Fog Effect, 1904

Claude Monet, The Houses of Parliament, Fog Effect, 1904 | Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, St.Petersburg

In the afternoon, Monet painted The Houses of Parliament from the comfort of a studio within the newly built St Thomas’s Hospital.

The hazy impressionistic effect so familiar with Monet’s pieces is a combination of his painterly style developed when capturing the changing light of Rouen and part due to the mix of fog and industrial smog in London at the time. It’s interesting to see how his work developed from the more graphical depictions of the Houses of Parliment in 1871 where the modern building was the main focus to these later works where it seems the atmosphere and light have taken centre stage.

Monet made extended visits to London first in 1899, 1900 and for his longest stint in 1901, painting in all over 100 canvases of London. He would rework the sketchier pieces back in his studio in Giverny making dating impossible, many of paintings from this period carry the dates from 1899-1904.

Whilst staying at the Savoy, he was witness to the procession of the Queen Mother’s funeral, next to him on the balcony, a French-speaking observer explained what was happening.

It turned out to be the novelist Henry James.

The portrait below is of Henry James painted by Monet’s friend John Singer Sargent and displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, London.


John Singer Sargent, Henry James, 1913 | © National Portrait Gallery, London. Henry James’s 1891 Novella, The Pupil, is said to be based on Sargent’s nomadic boyhood in Europe.

You would imagine that Monet and Sargent painted together, giving each other tips on what brushes and pigment choices but Monet commented:

“Sargent is a good fellow, but when he lunches with me, I do not talk painting.”

Monet in Venice

Claude & Alice Monet, Venice, 1908

Invited by his English friend Mrs Mary Hunter to make a long-awaited trip to Venice, Monet and Alice arrived in October 1908. Now 68, Monet soon got into a regular practice of painting, producing 37 works of what he called ‘the unique light’ of Venice.

They remained here for two months, first staying at the Barbaro Palace on the Grand Canal.

John Singer Sargent, An Interior in Venice, 1898

The Barbaro Palace has a long history of famous guests.

It was initially rented in 1881 by a relative of Sargent, Daniel Sargent Curtis, a successful lawyer and banker who subsequently purchased and renovated the Palazzo in 1885.

In 1898 Sargent painted a family portrait of the Curtis Family within the Palace. Ariana Curtis and Daniel Curtis in the foreground and Ralph Curtis, who Sargent went to Art school with and his wife in the background.

Many painters and writers stayed here, from Henry James (who describes the ballroom in his novel ‘The Wings of the Dove’ 1902) to the painters James Whistler, and most notably Claude Monet and Anders Zorn.

Claude Monet Palazzo da Mula in Venice

Claude Monet, Palazzo da Mula in Venice, 1908 (not in the exhibition)

It’s interesting to juxtapose Sargent’s detailed interior of the building telling the story of the people, in contrast to Monet’s tonal, flat perspective composition above, telling the story of colour.

Monet worked on the steps of the Palazzo Barbaro, painting the Palazzo da Mula opposite and then later during their stay, moved to the Grand Hotel Britannia (now the Westin Hotel Europa & Regina) so in the afternoon, he could paint the great expanse of Grand Canal through the hotel window.

Claude Monet, San Giorgio Maggiore, 1908

Claude Monet, San Giorgio Maggiore, 1908 |Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Lockton Collection

The view out of our window is marvellous. You couldn’t dream of anything more beautiful and it is all for Monet“, Alice told her daughter.

The view over the Grand Canal in the Venice series, are almost always devoid of people, gondolas and adornments, a reflection of Monet trying to capture his most fascinating subject, the changing colours and effects of light.

After exhibiting the Venice works in 1912, Monet retired to Giverny, now a widower with struggling eyesight, he remained here painting his much-beloved garden until his death in 1926.

The exhibition ‘Monet & Architecture’ runs until the end of July 2018 and if you can wait until June you can catch the BP portrait prize that is on at the National Portrait Gallery next door. There’s even a nice gelato shop a few minutes walk away.

I missed the portrait show but maybe on our next trip down to London. (although I’m a little uneasy as Vanessa seemed to be a little too keen on Monet’s idea of a suite at the Savoy!)

The Exhibition: Monet & Architecture is at The National Gallery, London from Monday 9 April to Sunday 29 July 2018.

The BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery from 14 June to 23 September 2018

You Might Also Like:

  1. How to Paint Like Monet (free video tutorial with Acrylics)
  2. Singer Sargent & Friends – Exhibition Review
  3. Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palace and Patisseries in Paris – Exhibition Review
  4. Discovering Velasquez, The Duke & Unexpected Treasures – Exhibition Review

This Post Has 119 Comments

  1. Vanessa Enos

    Hi Will, yes I have been and what a wonderful exhibition Monet and Architecture is – great for those who are interested in and for architects. I thought it was very well curated with the video at the start and the wee book to take around with you (and keep) instead of trying to read the tiny labels. Must try and go again but live in South-west Scotland.

    Best wishes,


    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you managed to see the show Vanessa.

  2. Mike Todd

    Thanks Will. I love looking at Monet’s work must have been exciting walking around the exposition.

  3. Norbert

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Will. Impressionism has always been my favourite style of painting.

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Norbert, really glad you liked it.

  4. stephen welham

    As always will well researched a lot of information to take on board good information
    Regards Steve

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Gaye, pleased you enjoyed it.

  5. Walker

    Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Priscilla

    That’s cheered me up… thank you! I’m amazed with the changing approaches across the years as I only knew the water lilies and the bridge from a visit to Giverny and a very difficult jigsaw puzzle from years ago. My favourite was ‘View of Bordighera, 1884’. Do you have a favourite?

    1. Will Kemp

      Pleased you enjoyed it Priscilla, glad it gave you a new insight into some of Monet’s paintings. I don’t have one particular favourite but am often drawn to the sun-dappled scenes.

      1. Ellen

        My favorite is the Promenade at Argenteuil, 1872
        Thank you for sharing these!

  7. leslie fehler

    Thank you so much for sharing with me this wonderful artist Monet

  8. Frances Pizzino

    Thank you so much for sharing your visit ……so beautiful paintings! Sincerely fran

  9. Hello Will,

    Great article. A proper review of the show.

    It’s interesting that in the past you’ve used a thicker acrylic medium to create an “impasto” effect on a ground for one of your Venice paintings, and I assume Monet must have used thick oil paint (multi-layer?) on his Rouen paintings to get a very similar, rough textured effect. I assume just thick oil anyway.

    Cheers, Alastair

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Alastair, yes, well spotted. On the Venice course, we initially built up an impasto underpainting, the same effect is achieved from the thicker application of paint. If you look at the details of Monet’s San Maggiore you can see the broken brushmarks due to the texture underneath and the way that (due to the slow drying of the oil) he’s wiped down the texture on the main focus of the building so it has a smoother finish and kept the texture in the background.


  10. van Swaaij coby

    Thanks Will
    for these, sometimes unexpected, Monets.

  11. Carol Jackson

    Hi Will Kemp,
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful piece on Monet and Architecture.

  12. Rafie

    Thanks for sharing. Love how you write about Monet here.

  13. Steve Jones

    Thanks again for all of the interesting subject matter you send to us. I will keep this in particular to refer to in my next paintings.

    Kind regards,


  14. Sarkis Antikajian

    Thanks Will for taking the time to share this extensive description of who Monet was, his story, and his wonderful work.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Sarkis, so pleased you enjoyed reading about Monet’s work.

  15. Penny

    So glad that you have reminded me about this fantastic exhibition !. I’m off next week to see it!.
    I am a huge fan of Monet’s painting and your description of his palette is incredibly helpful.
    I am also enjoying reading your blogs, I’m learning so much.Thank you for sharing you passion.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Penny, hope you enjoy visiting the show.

  16. Anita Shaw

    Thank you!
    As a replaced English woman now enjoying the crisp ever changing light on the west coast of America, I really enjoyed reading your observations on these works by Monet.
    It was a treat revisiting the places, and the art work .

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Anita, so pleased you enjoyed revisiting the different locations Monet painted.


    Dear Will,
    Thank you very much for your (as always) well-written article.
    I do appreciate every your letter because it moves me from my everyday’s life to the beauty of this world.
    Have a good day

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s so nice to hear Tatiana, have a lovely day aswell.

  18. Margaret

    Dear Will,
    Thank you for sharing your passion, observations and photographs taken during your various visit with us…not always able to visit the exhibits at these renowned and wonderful museums (which I did during my travels through Europe) in 2012…need to spend days, months to take in every stroke, color, artistry, time and sweat that goes into detailing the sketch or painting etc.

    I like John Singer Sargent as well and have a painting of elegant lady in black in my home…very striking indeed!!

    My gratitude to you, Will, for sharing your tutorials with us..oil and acrylic…I could spend days just sitting there and painting and soaking in the colors with everything that helps to make a personal artistic canvas.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Margaret, lovely to hear from you and really pleased to hear you’ve been enjoying the articles.

  19. mary beth gower

    I will just support what everyone else has said. I have really enjoyed looking at these paintings. I won’t be traveling to London so this a gift to me. I am 78 and a painter of portraits mainly. Thanks so much, Will

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Mary, pleased you enjoyed it.


    I thought I knew Monet, but this art lesson using the fine exhibition at the National Gallery
    was wonderfully informative. I loved Claude’s advice: “When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you … merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you.”
    Thank you so much for putting this together and sharing it.

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased it gave you a new insight into his work Eleta, and it is great advice.


  21. Jola

    Thank you Will so much for taking time to compose this email and share it with people who can’t even dream about being there in person because we live where we live.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hope it gave you a virtual insight to the show Jola.

  22. Maria Rodriguez

    You never fail to inspire me with your enthusiasm for learning and exploring art. I can see the smile in your heart and that always helps to move me forward. I am one of those who waiting until retirement to find time for art—and sometimes I feel overwhelm as to how much I missed and how much I have to learn. And yet, i find that when I do start a painting everything falls into place and I am taken to this place where nothing but that moment counts. Again, thank you for your inspiration and sharing your wonderful painting experiences with us. I find that your lessons have been so helpful and when I follow the videos I am loving the process. Maria

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Maria, so glad you’ve been enjoying the videos and I think your comment ‘And yet, I find that when I do start a painting everything falls into place and I am taken to this place where nothing but that moment counts’ is so true.


  23. Jenni

    Fabulous Will, thank you for taking the time and effort on our behalf.


  24. Yvette Leaker

    Thank you for sharing Will

  25. Russ

    Thank you for this wonderful tour thru the exhibit – touring and teaching at the same time. Have a new appreciation of Monet. Am an amateur “semi-impressionist/realist” (my term) and am absorbing all the info I can get. Russ

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Russ, really glad you learned some new things about Monet.

  26. Andy Anand

    Thank you Will tremendous review of your visit to Monets exhibition in London, Only at the end I realized John Singer was his friend he is also one of my favourites. I will read your excellent narration several times and may even go to England to see the exhibition but cannot afford to stay at the Savoy!
    Great Job! Andy

    1. Will Kemp

      Ha, ha, you’re very kind Andy, glad you’ve been finding the article of interest.

  27. Mike

    Will great write up as usual. I like the part where you mentioned “In this painting, we can see a great example of the use of square brush strokes to indicate the movement of the water”
    Houses on the banks of the Zaan, fabulous looking painting.


    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Mike, yes it’s really interesting to see the effect close up, pleased you enjoyed the article.

  28. Lynda

    Thanks Will…..Wonderful!

  29. Liz

    Thank you, Will! I enjoyed this very much! Monet is my favorite impressionistic artist! -Liz

  30. Mairin Ni Bhriain

    Thanks Will. What a delight to find in my inbox!
    Much appreciated,

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Mairin, so glad you enjoyed it.

  31. Suzanne

    Dear Will,
    Greetings from Australia mate! Wonderful article Will, and much appreciated! I gained more insight into Monet’s processes, and above all, it’s the light!
    Your humble admirer, Suzanne ✌

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Suzanne, really pleased you enjoyed the article.

  32. Adrienne

    Thank you Will – wonderful to wake up to in Australia so unable to see this wonderful exhibition – hope it comes our way soon! Love your always informative posts Will….

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Adrienne, hope it helped give you an insight into his works.

  33. Laura Gray

    Hey Will from over the Pond in Western Canada ( British Columbia)!
    Your articles and videos keep me motivated, and I always learn from you! I want you to know how you have made painting fun again for me. Learning from the masters is a life long journey -they had only a few pure colours and created luminous works!…
    So please keep up the global teachings for us, and enjoy your summer painting ahead!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Laura, that’s fantastic to hear, great that you’re feeling inspired in your paintings.

  34. Terry Moore

    Hi Will,
    Thank you for sharing your experience! I live in Canada but will be coming to England later this month and have purchased tickets to see the Monet exhibit. I’m travelling to the lake district as well beforehand. Can’t wait!
    I also want to thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your talent with us though videos and articles on your website!

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Terry, really hope you enjoy your visit to the show and thanks for your kind words.

  35. Jean

    Hi Will
    I loved this expose.
    I had the opportunity to see an impressionist exhibit in Toronto, and Monet was my favorite.
    thanks for sharing it.


  36. Jennifer

    Hi Will
    Thanks for posting this delightful and informative article. Unfortunately Australia is rather too far away to get along to London to see the exhibitions in person but you have given such a wonderful description. I’m going to forward it to our art society members who I’m sure will also enjoy it.
    Thanks again.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much for the share to your art society Jennifer, very much appreciated!


  37. Susan Morgan

    Hi Will – I have been to this exhibition and it was one of the most inspiring ever ! Lovely article too – will read it in full at some stage as much info – thanks

  38. Wayne Peterson

    There is nothing like standing in front of the real thing, but “your” tour proved a very satisfying experience. Thanks for your continued generosity.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Wayne, glad you enjoyed it.

  39. Mary Mead

    What a joy to receive on a very cold, wet day on the Isle of Wight.
    Thank you for taking me with you on this exhibition with no walking and steps to climb. A shaped , guided tour with Monet’s quotes to inspire, and works previously unknown to delight. Wish more tutors were as inspiring.
    More please.

    1. Will Kemp

      Ha, ha, so pleased you enjoyed it Mary, thanks for your kind words.

  40. Mary Johnson

    Ahhhhh, your words and images have transported me from the still bare-branched landscapes of early Spring in northern USA to the warmth and light of Monet’s Venice.
    Thank You for the virtual tour of the exhibit, your informative remarks and for sharing the beauty, Will!

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s lovely to hear Mary, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  41. J.Hobden

    Your “Monet Architecture” Picures were fantasic. Also your accompaning article was most interesting. Thank you Joan.

  42. Heather Attzs

    Thanks Will
    This is so interesting
    Heather x

  43. Katerina

    Hello Will. Thank you for the Great article.I have a question. Monet used cobalt blue and viridian you say colors that today artists are not in favor of. Why today are not in favor? (Ok Will you gave the answer to my question in your Monet tutorial. Thanks)
    The results in Monet paintings are gorgeous

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Katerina, pleased you found the answer in the Monet lesson and enjoyed the article.

  44. Sherrie

    You always amaze me with this type of article. Your knowledge of the artist and descriptions of their paintings, are so well articulated and you make the “connections” so well. The illustrations provided are such an important part of these talks, and the articles are so professional done for the web. I think you should have them bound…”Will Kemp’s thoughts on Art and Artists,”… does that sound?

    1. Will Kemp

      Ha, ha, you’re very kind Sherrie, so pleased you enjoyed learning about Monet’s (and friends) work!

  45. CHERYL


    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Cheryl, glad you enjoyed the pictures.

  46. Judi

    Hi Will
    I won’t get to see this as I live in Australia and not going back to Europe for a year or two, but I found your commentary and the paintings fascinating – and how Monet’s approach and use of colour couldn’t be more different to Sargent’s. Always wondered how he got some of these views of his subjects, as it doesn’t look like a perspective from ground level. Following all your posts with interest as I’m getting back into painting after many years. Thanks so much.


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Judi, really pleased you enjoyed reading about Monet’s work, and so that the website been helping you with the journey back to your paintings.

  47. Elaine P Miller

    Thank you Will for the wonderful photos and article of your fabulous trip to “The National Gallery London”. They are very much appreciated and very inspiring. I shall try harder to do better.
    Cheers Elaine

  48. Vicki

    Thank you so much for taking the time to publish this. I REALLY love reading your commentaries. I learn so much. Being from a very small farming community in Wisconsin, USA, you give my knowledge and a chance to see paintings outside of my world.

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of you to say so Vicki, so glad you enjoyed reading the review.

  49. Joanna Segal

    Hola Will, I really look forward to your articles. I think that one of the pleasures of painting as a hobbie is learning about the life and painting tecniques of artists that interest me and how their lives link together. I.e that Singer Sargeant was a friend of Monets and I love the detail that Monet liked to stay in a comfortable studio. Even though I cannot visit many exhibitions I now have your inspiring, funny and informative emails to enjoy.
    I am struggling with tonal values but thanks to your videos, I have done the coffee cup, white flowers and and Monet so far in oils and its becoming clearer. Please keep up good work!!
    Saludos Joanna

    1. Will Kemp

      Hola Joanna, pleased you enjoyed learning about the connections between the artists (forgot to mention in the article that Monet’s paintings were sold in Paris by Theo, Van Gogh’s brother!) it’s fascinating. Hope the coffee cup and flower paintings turned out well.

  50. Vee

    It is impossible for me to thank you enough for detailing everything regarding the Monet exhibition! Luckily, I do visit England/London often as I have loads of family there. My time permits me to see a few of the museums and I am always so thank for it because each time I learn something. And when I read your explanations everything I have seen & understood of Monet’s paintings in London & France… and even briefly a few came to a museum in Hartford, Connecticut…seems to seep in that much more deeper and with that much more sense. I have gained much confidence after practicing your tutorials and Monet plays a pivotal part of what I want to develop albeit in a style that I can perhaps call more mine… it is a process of discovery. Thank you ever so much for sharing your inputs so beautifully with us.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Vee, thanks for your very kind comments and glad the lessons have helped in developing your painting style.

  51. Yoana Yehudah

    What a pleasurable experience walking through this exhibition with you. I have only now at age 72 started to paint. A bit late I guess but with the inspiration your articles and teachings provide, it makes it thoroughly worth while, providing me with a new lease on life so to speak. As I am unable to visit both the London exhibit as well as the Monet galleries in Paris and Giverny , which one would you suggest to a new kid on the block? Thanks Will !

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Yoana, so pleased you enjoyed the article. I would say if you have a chance to visit the waterlilies in Paris and experience the garden at Giverny, it would give you more of an experience of where the inspiration for the work came from to the final piece hung for display.

  52. Linda Thornton

    Hi Will,
    I love the way you interpret artists… so, am wondering whether you will be doing the same for the Picasso exhibition later this year? Although I’m on the other side of the world, I will be in London at that time, but would like to be more educated before I go!

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Linda, really pleased you enjoyed the exhibition review, good to know a Picasso walkthrough would be of interest.

  53. jen sutton

    hi Will,
    thanks so much for sharing, and all the info, I really do appreciate learning about artists and their work, but I am a realist and i am sorry to say that his work leaves me cold. I can admire his colour and thought process as we interpret it. but to be honest and dont laugh please I far far prefer your work. As they say each to their own. But i enjoyed the article very much. thanks

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Jen, and yes, impressionism isn’t for every artist (you’re very kind in your comments) pleased you enjoyed the article still.

  54. Ian Watkins

    I have visited the Monet gardens several times and have always been impressed with the artistic atmosphere in the garden. Because I live in Australia the frequency of visits to the Monet gardens are now infrequent. Thank you for your assistance to would be artists.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Ian, so pleased you’ve enjoyed your trips to Giverny and glad that you’ve been enjoying the articles.


  55. NyiNyiAung

    Thanks for sharing.I also love his work

  56. Michael Keene

    Will thank you for the marvelous tour!—so we’ll written and inspiring!

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Michael, very kind of you.

  57. Addie

    Wow thank you so much!
    Generous of you to take the time to put this together, and then just share it with us!

  58. Andrew M

    Thanks Will for forwarding some glimpses of Monets love of capturing light, tone and atmospheres but seen in different ways

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you enjoyed it Andrew.

  59. Willette

    Hi Will,
    Thanks for letting us see & experience with you… I love Monet – and I’ve a Monet Mystery for you (hope you can solve it for me because it’s been in the back of my mind for about 58 years now) Back in about 1958-1960 I visited the Smithsonian art gallery in Washington, D.C. There I saw a painting titled “Tree in Fog” and fell in love with it! I thought I remember the artist as being Claude Monet. I have searched art books, show and catalogue brochures, etc.since then and never been able to find it – even under another artist’s name. It was a very large painting – in the neighborhood of 24″ x 36″, hung vertically. The style was “Monet impressionist”, with a palette similar to the “Houses of Parliment” shown above, but a little brighter -muted sun- in some areas. Have you ever encountered it? Can you help me solve this mystery before I kick the bucket? (I ‘m 791/2 now so please don’t wait too long!)

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Willette, good to hear from you, so pleased you enjoyed the virtual tour. Now I have to say you Monet mystery has me stumped, Monet did paint some very large paintings but these are mainly the waterlilies, I can’t think of a tree in fog style painting that scale.


  60. Mairi

    Hi Will,
    Thank you so much for sharing the Monet and the Anders Zorn exhibitions!! It’s such a treat to see these paintings and hear your enthusiasm and how you interpret, read, feel and see them.
    I live in a small town in the Interior of British Columbia Canada where access to view and linger before amazing artworks involves a huge trip and expense that isn’t realistic at this time. I sometimes think I was born on the wrong continent because I feel so attached to the European art, except for the Group of 7!
    I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you are doing to inspire me.
    Best to you,

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Mairi, really pleased you enjoyed the exhibition reviews and thanks for taking the time to let me know you’ve been feeling inspired by the articles, very much appreciated.

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