Sadly we couldn’t travel in the Covid pandemic and it is still not as easy as it used to be. So revisiting my favourite artists virtually made the ‘new’ normal just a bit more ‘normal’ and I love to discover the quirky, human bits of famous artists or paintings. It's a bit like; “But wait - there must be more…”
Claude Monet's house & garden in Giverny is one of my favourite places. Visited long ago many times it always brings back a smile and vivid memories. The famous painter had also a very charming domestic side. Some 30 years ago, I came across a book by Claire Joyes, telling the enchanting story of Monet's life at Giverny and his love of good food and wine. The book is accompanied with photographs of handwritten recipes from his notebook. He even collected recipes of dishes he encountered on his travels or at his friends' houses.
Good food is always accompanied by good wine, and food and wine are the great communicators of culture and art, Monet was an expert at both. We don't know what wine he preferred and only Bordeaux is mentioned. What we know is that he imbibed liberally over a lavish lunch each day before returning to back to work. That would be my kind of daily routine. There are some jokes floating about that the midday enjoyment of wine had an impact on Monet’s soft-focused impressionist painting style. He also loved champagne, it was generously served at celebrations, and he insisted on decanting it. Well, I’m not so sure if that was wise …
Monet was a moody, reserved and very private man but loved to entertain friends. He only did lunch, never dinner, as he worked to a strict timetable around his painting routine. He always had an early night so he could get up at dawn to catch the 'light'. Lunch was served at 11:30am, again to catch the afternoon 'light'. This regime would have given him lots of work hours in summer and a well deserved rest in winter …
His regular guests were fellow Impressionists we all admire today; Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Pissaro and many more. Monet died at the great age of 86, so much for the health benefits of a 'Good Life'.
Better still, he will be my point of reference next time my GP asks; how many glasses of wine I had during the week.
His closest friend, Georges Clémenceau, insisted that a floral cloth should grace Monet's casket, as black is not a colour and rarely used by Impressionists and was deemed to be inappropriate. Please get in touch if you are interested in some of Monet’s recipes, I’m happy to share them with you.
🎨 Art & Wine are a natural pair. Still Life by Claude Monet;
Bottle, Carafe, Bread and Wine 1862-63