Luncheon on the Grass a Monumental Work by Claude Monet
Inspired by Édouard Manet’s masterpiece by the same name, Monet began his own Luncheon on the Grass in the spring of 1865. He planned this large scale painting to be a canvas of over four by six meters (about 13’ x 19.5’). Monet began sketches for the painting while in Chailly and started on the actual canvas when he returned to his Paris studio in the fall. Bazille and Camille was painted en plein air in the Fountainbleu Forest as a study for the final painting, Luncheon on the Grass. Monet had hoped to finish the large scale painting in time for the 1866 Salon but was unable to complete it in time and eventually abandoned it. What remains of the painting now are two giant panels at the Musée d’Orsay, only fragments of the original.
According to the Musée d’Orsay, Monet’s explanation for what happened to the painting,
“I had to pay my rent, I gave [Luncheon on the Grass] to the landlord as security and he rolled it up and put in the cellar. When I finally had enough money to get it back, as you can see, it had gone mouldy.”
In 1884, Monet reclaimed the painting and cut it into separate panels keeping only three of them. One of the panels is missing but the other two are currently traveling with the Impression, Fashion and Modernity Exhibit which will be at The Metropolitan Museum of Art until May 27, and will be at The Art Institute of Chicago from June 26 – September 22.