Monet's water lilies to reunite at Missouri museums

Sunday, January 9, 2011 | 4:57 p.m. CST

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Museum of Art is lending a painting of water lilies by Claude Monet to museums in Missouri, where it will join two companion paintings for the first time in 30 years.

The painting will be loaned over the next year to the St. Louis Art Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

The Plain Dealer reports that the three paintings measure 42 feet wide when together and were created by Monet as a trio but sold separately after his death in 1926.

The shows will run from April 9 to Aug. 7 in Kansas City and from September to next January in St. Louis.

"They're going to look stunning," Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art at the St. Louis museum, told the newspaper. "They're wonderfully colorful, luminous works."

All three paintings will be in Cleveland in 2015 as part of an exhibit planned for the museum's 2016 centennial celebration.

The paintings were last together in 1980, when they toured the same three cities.

"There's such richness and depth to Monet's work, and it's always giving back to the viewer," said William Robinson, the Cleveland museum's curator of modern European art.

Monet had intended to install the trio in a pavilion in the garden of the Hotel Biron in Paris. He later then planned to install two in the Orangerie in Paris, now the site of eight water lilies pieces. But he instead kept the three paintings and worked on them in his studio until his death.

The paintings were sold to the Cleveland and Missouri museums between 1956 and 1960.

The 13-foot-wide Cleveland piece is being reviewed and cleaned before it makes its trip.

The museum, along with the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, X-rayed the canvas on Friday.

The museum's paintings conservator Dean Yoder said the X-rays will be used to help him and independent conservator Marissa Ryan of Hiram search for cracks or weakness. Loose flakes would likely be reset with adhesive applied through a syringe.

"Everyone on the planet knows this painting," Ryan said. "To become that familiar with it is an incredible experience."

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