Water Lilies: The Clouds

Les Nymphéas : Les Nuages

“One could dream of a Monet turning toward the use of large canvases, clear and iridescent, the preserve of Veronese, of Tiepolo. Dream no more, and consider his supreme work, the Nymphéas [Water Lilies]. Despite their monumental dimensions they do not demonstrate the characteristics of Grand Venetian or Flemish decoration. His disposition of spirit appears to me to be that of a great easel painter who decides to offer his vision a field vast enough, imposing enough to embrace the world. (A mirror of water is enough to identify with the Universe.) A cosmic vision, I would say, if this word had not been subverted in recent years and uttered in relation to anyone and anything. Thus Michelangelo, a creator of unique and solitary figures, awaited the day when a Vatican chapel would allow him to blossom and demonstrate his overwhelming power. This is why I am really pleased to describe the Orangerie in the Tuileries as the Sistine Chapel of Impressionism. A deserted site in the heart of Paris, a consecration of the inaccessible. What we have here is one of the peaks of French genius."

André Masson, Monet le fondateur, Revue Verve, 1952, vol. VII, numbers 27-28, p. 68