Meet the gourmet artist, Claude Monet
Palette to Palate®
Monet the painter & Monet the foodie
Monet the painter –
Claude Monet has been heralded as the father of the French artistic movement, Impressionism, which attempts to look at the moment to moment effects of light on everyday subjects.
Monet was born in Paris and grew up in Le Havre, France, along the beautiful, yet rugged, Normandy coast. In Le Havre, Monet's passion for the landscape was born. He followed his passion for art to Paris where his abilities and desires were nurtured. It was during his years in Paris that Monet's professional associations with Renoir, Sisley, and Pissarro began, and continued throughout his life. These relationships collectively gave rise to the Impressionist movement, named after Monet's painting IMPRESSION: SUNRISE, which is now held at the Museum Marmotten in Paris.
In 1883 Monet returned to his beloved Normandy; more specifically, to the small village of Giverny, just north of Paris, along the Seine River. By 1890, Monet had become affluent enough through his art, that he was able to purchase his home and gardens in Giverny. He subsequently, created an environment which reflected his artistic sensibility: an oasis complete with water lily ponds and Japanese bridges which gently span the now famous water gardens. Monet painted 12 very large canvases of the water lily basin which he donated to the French Government and to this day, can be viewed at the Museum L'Orangerie in Paris. In the film "Monet's Palate's" Professor Joachim Pissarro, noted art historian and great-grandson of Camille Pissarro, states, "When the right light effect was there, Monet would have to run immediately to capture it." Monet's home and gardens, nestled within the region of Normandy, supplied the artist and his Impressionist followers with the right subjects and contrasts of light.
Monet's years in Giverny were marked with artistic accomplishments which many believe remain unsurpassed to this day. Due to the work and support of Museé Claude Monet, which was essential to the restoration of Monet's home and gardens, visitors now have a window into the life and loves of one of the greatest artists of all time.
Monet the foodie –
Claude Monet's passion for art and cuisine was most apparent at his home in Giverny. It was in Giverny that Monet grew his own herb and vegetable garden, foraged wild mushrooms, designed his own Limoges dining pattern (which went on to become one of the most popular china patterns), and entertained guests in a true celebration of gastronomy.
Monet dined at the greatest restaurants throughout the world and would introduce aspects of his newly discovered dishes into the traditional menus of Normandy.
Tenth century Norman Vikings who settled into the region through the military conquests of William the Conqueror influenced the gastronomy of Normandy. The Anglo-Saxon cuisine introduced by the Vikings employed the use of heavy cream and butter. Notable foods of Normandy include the Boudin sausage of Mortagne, the rich butter of Isigny, apple cider from Rouen and the creamy cheeses of Camembert, Livarot and Point L'éveque. In addition, a traditional beverage called Le Trou Normand (the Norman Hole) is a glass of Calvados brandy distilled from apple cider and taken as a digestive aid during a large meal. There is no wine made in Normandy due to the cold climate; instead, apple cider and Calvados are the prized native spirits.
Monet's years in Giverny were devoted, passionately, to his art and his love of fine cuisine. His home in Giverny became a mecca for celebrities, politicians, and fellow artists. Guests would enjoy a lunch in the gardens or an intimate meal set in Monet's beautiful yellow dining room, which was adorned with Monet's collection of Japanese wood cut prints. Monet's artistic sensibility extended to the culinary canvas of the dining room table. The table would be adorned with magnificent floral arrangements, Monet's yellow and blue Limoge place settings, and the incredible dishes prepared to Monet's specifications by his cook Marguerite.
Christmas dinner was the most celebrated meal at the Monet home. The dinner would always conclude with banana ice-cream. Imagine Monet's delight over the combination of an exotic tropical banana mixed with the rich cream of Normandy! When Monet became obsessed with "Yorkshire Pudding" after dining at the Savoy Hotel in London, he directed Marguerite to prepare it and was relentless until she mastered the recipe. This became a pattern whenever Monet discovered a new recipe, which tickled and delighted his palate.
Throughout Monet's life his passion for fine cuisine never faltered. After he died in 1926, his wife would not allow processed foods into the home and tried to adhere to the example of fine cuisine Monet had brought to the small village in Normandy. Monet's love of art and fine cuisine were intertwined and both his palate and palette met at his home in Giverny giving birth to Monet’s Palate®.