Although it focuses primarily on mounting emblematic exhibitions, the musée des impressionnismes Giverny also has an acquisitions policy. Fairly modest in scope, it is strictly linked to its missions and mainly financed thanks to the generosity of donors.
The birth of a collection
The acquisition by the museum in 2009, when it opened, of a drawing by Pierre Bonnard depicting Marthe Bonnard and Claude Monet in the dining room of the Pressoir in Giverny reflected its desire to constitute a collection. Following the exhibition Maximilien Luce, Neo-Impressionist. A Retrospective, organised in 2010, Dominique Ledebt, whose family was linked to that of Luce in Rolleboise, donated two important works by the painter to the museum: La Briqueterie and L’Île à Bois, Kermouster, Lézardrieux.
The Maurice Denis, The Eternal Spring exhibition in 2012 also provided an opportunity to enrich the collection. Claire Denis donated the painting Soleil blanc sur les blés to the museum, together with a rare portrait of Claude Monet, both of which were painted by her grandfather. The museum supplemented these donations by acquiring the work Reflet de soleil sur la rivière.
Nihonga, an exceptional collection in Giverny
As part of the exhibition Hiramatsu, The Lily Pond. Homage to Monet in 2013, a large number of works by Hiramatsu Reiji, a contemporary Japanese painter who uses the traditional nihonga technique, entered the museum’s collection. Twenty-two paintings and three screens were purchased in 2013, and two screens in 2014. These acquisitions were followed by a substantial donation by Hiramatsu in 2014, consisting of twenty-six works on paper and two sketchbooks.
An important collection of photographs
Sixty photographs of Claude Monet’s garden and house by Bernard Plossu were purchased in 2012, joining precious prints by Olivier Mériel (acquisition of three prints and donation of two prints in 2010), as well as a print by André Ostier showing the painter Marc Chagall near the water-lily pond in 1963 (gift of Adrien and Anne Ostier in 2012). In 2016, this collection of photographs was enriched by a new work donated by Bernard Plossu, Autoportrait, Giverny, a print made during the preparation of the exhibition Photographing Monet's Gardens: Five Contemporary Views, together with a group of three photograms, Vibrations - Giverny (4–5 November 2014), donated by the sculptor, photographer and video artist Henri Foucault, who also participated in the exhibition.
For two years now, the museum has been keen to highlight the scope and quality of its Impressionist collection.
To begin with, it has been enriched by a large decorative work painted by Gustave Caillebotte. Acquired thanks to a public subscription combined with support from several local companies and the fledgling Museum Friends' Society, the four panels painted by Cailllebotte made a considerable splash when they entered the collections. This was an ambitious decorative project undertaken in 1893 for the dining room in the house that the artist had had built in Petit Gennevilliers.
More recently, two landscapes by John Leslie Breck painted between 1887 and 1891 – L'Epte, Giverny and La Ferme – were very generously donated to the museum by the Terra Foundation for American Art. They thus returned to the place that inspired them, reminding visitors that Breck, a pioneer of the large colony of American painters that formed around Claude Monet, was one of the first to stay in Giverny.
Finally, in December 2016 Charlotte Hellman, Paul Signac’s great grand-daughter, donated a rare and important drawing by her grandfather, Barfleur, in memory of her mother Françoise Cachin, former director of the Musées de France. It was the preparatory cartoon, executed in Indian ink wash, for the eponymous painting of 1931, today conserved in a Japanese private collection.
It should also be noted that since its creation the musée des impressionnismes Giverny has benefited from several loans from the Frac Normandie Rouen (Joan Mitchell, La Grande Vallée, 1983–1984), Dominique Ledebt (a group of seven paintings by Maximilien Luce), Philippe Piguet and the village of Giverny (Blanche Hoschedé-Monet, Lupins et Pavots, and Frederick MacMonnies, L’Abbé Toussaint).
The Monet in the Middle display
Between 2012 and 2017, the museum’s first acquisitions were presented in an installation titled Monet in the Middle, supplemented to provide coherence by loans from the Musée d’Orsay and the Terra Foundation. Intended to complement the exhibitions and to pay tribute to Claude Monet, this display illustrated his influence on both his contemporaries and the following generations. Works by Maurice Denis, Hiramatsu Reiji and Joan Mitchell hung alongside paintings by Monet, emphasising his impact in France and abroad.
The Hiramatsu in Giverny display
In 2018, Monet in the Middle gave way to a new display. In conjunction with the exhibition Japonisms / Impressionisms, organised to mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Meiji era, which saw the start of diplomatic relations between Japan and the West, the museum is presenting a display devoted to the works of Hiramatsu Reiji, a contemporary artist who admires the work of Claude Monet. Using the traditional Japanese technique known as nihonga, he paints canvases and screens that show Monet’s influence.