Responding to Monet’s Water Lilies

Monet_the water-lily pond

Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1919. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 78 7/8 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection

This is not my first time seeing Monet’s famous water lilies. I remember going to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris as a child—first with my father, later with my grandparents. At the Orangerie, the water lilies hang in a circular room, towering over you as you sit in the middle of the room. It almost seems as if you’re sitting in the middle of the pond.

When I saw the water lilies for the first time, my eyesight was like that of a hawk. Now, the colors come together in a blur; I can hardly discern where the green from the water lilies ends and where the green of the pond begins. The shapes and the strokes melt away. When I was a child, I could see each stroke from across the room. Like Monet, my eyesight grows worse. Like Monet, my vision blurs. If I were to paint, like Monet my paintings would become more and more abstract.

Olivia Bensimon, Marketing & Communications Intern

The Five Senses: Touch

One gallery in Seeing Nature is dedicated to Jan Brueghel the Younger’s The Five Senses series. Painted in 1625, this series is a close copy of five paintings by Brueghel’s father, Jan Brueghel the Elder (who painted the backgrounds) and Peter Paul Rubens (who painted the figures) in 1617–18, now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Each painting focuses on one of the five senses, providing a platform for visitors to consider their own encounters with nature. Today we focus on Touch.

Brueghel_Touch

Jan Brueghel the Younger, The Five Senses: Touch, c. 1625. Oil on panel, 27 5/8 x 44 5/8 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection

In Touch, Jan Brueghel the Younger contrasts the tender caress shared by Venus and Cupid with a bristling pile of armor and weapons of war. This painting is the only one of the five that does not have an idealized landscape: the room opens out to a hilly view with ruined walls, a reminder of the Thirty Years’ War that was ravaging the Lowlands when the artist was painting these works.

Volunteer Spotlight: Michael D. Farley

In this series, Education Department Coordinator Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. The Phillips Collection volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concert, assisting patrons in the Library, helping out with Phillips after 5 and special events, and so much more. Our volunteers offer a wealth of expertise and experience to the museum, and we are delighted to highlight several them.

Michael D. Farley, Art Information Volunteer Mentor/Phillips after 5 Volunteer

Volunteer Spotlight - Michael Farley

Michael D. Farley

What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection?
2013

What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?
Supporting the Phillips, working with staff & guests, learning about the collection.

 What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Phillips Collection?
Chief Development Officer-American Society of International Law

What is your favorite room or painting here?
Jacob Lawrence & Rothko room

If you had to choose one word to describe Phillips, what would it be?
Dynamic

Share a fun fact about you!
My first nonprofit job was as a Development Director of the Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR, in 1986, and there I created the popular “Museum After Hours” program still going strong today, very similar to Phillips after 5.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Enjoy Thursday evening volunteering and working the Will Call desk