Léon Monet, a collector who loved Rouen, at Musée du Luxembourg

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Auguste Renoir, “Paris, l’Institut au quai Malaquais”, 1872, private collection

Léon Monet is “the brother of… Claude” and he was a chemist and industrialist, developing artificial colours, who helped his brother and some of his Impressionist friends (Sisley, Pissarro, Renoir…) in acquiring and exhibiting their paintings, thus becoming an important collector. The small exhibition at Musée du Luxembourg has all the charm of Normandy with many views of Rouen where he lived and was active in a number of cultural associations. He bought his brother Claude’s drawing albums from 1856 when he was 16, 45 precious leafs which are exhibited here. They are very moving of course. There is an irresistible caricature of an English man with large “favoris”.

Claude Monet, Anglais favoris, cir1857, private collection

Léon Monet was for years older than Claude and they were both raised in Le Havre when their parents moved there in 1845. But he settles in Rouen where he creates la Société Industrielle de Rouen, and represents Geigy & Cie from Basel a company specialized in synthetic pigments and dyes for fabrics. He received the gold medal at the 1878 Universal exhibition for his company. Later he will hire Claude’s son, Jean Monet, to work with him at Geigy & Cie.

Claude Monet, Portrait of Adolphe Monet, (their father) 1865, New Brunswick, Zimmerli Art Museum

There are two portrait of Claude Monet by Renoir, and portraits of their parents by Adolf Rinck as well as one done by Claude of his father which he will always keep ins home. His portrait of Leon is not flattering bu shows a a round and generous man who worked hard at promoting his border and friends ‘s works. On March 24, 1875, he went to Hotel Drouot, and buys at least five impressionist paintings (Renoir and Monet) there at the first auction organized for the group of painters whom no museum was interested in. Paul Durand-Ruel bought 18 the same day. He also acquires lesser known Rouen artists such as Georges Bradberry, Marcel Delaunay, Joseph Delattre, Charles Frechon and Narcisse Guibert which allows us to discover new names in the show.

Georges Bradberry, La Plaine en septembre, pastel, cir 1908, collection Arnaud Tellier

There are a number of views of the cliffs in Etretat and the beach in Les petties Dalles, of hay and fields or barges near Rouen. Blanche Hoschedé-Monet, the daughter of one of Monet’s wives and the wife of his son Jean, was a talented painter and one can discover three more landscapes from the area through her eye.

Blanche Hoschedé Monet, Les Petites Dalles, 1885-1890, private collection

This is a small exhibition which will ravish ou if you are interested in the history of the Monet family and in Rouen landscapes. Until July 16, at Musée du Luxembourg.

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