Museum visitors have until mid-August to bid bon voyage to one of the most popular works in the collection—Water Lilies, the central panel of Claude Monet’s Agapanthus triptych. The three panels will be reunited for Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, a major exhibition organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
The 42-foot triptych was inspired by Monet’s pond in his famed garden at Giverny, just west of Paris. His large-scale water-lily compositions represent the culminating achievement of his career.
The Museum first reunited its panel with those in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for the 1978 exhibition, Monet’s Years at Giverny: Beyond Impressionism. In 2011 and 2012, the Agapanthus triptych was on view as part of the exhibition Monet’s Water Lilies in St. Louis and Kansas City. The exhibition in Cleveland and London will examine the role of gardens in the paintings of Monet and other Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and avant-garde artists of the early 20th century.
The three panels have been shown together in Europe since they were purchased by the three Midwestern museums in the 1950s. Simon Kelly, the Museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art, said he hopes the international exposure will help establish the Agapanthus triptych—and the Museum’s central panel, in particular—as one of the finest examples in Monet’s Water Lilies series.
“For people who are unfamiliar with the triptych, seeing it in person as the culmination of a major exhibition is going to be revelatory,” Kelly said.
Water Lilies will return to the Museum in the spring.