Claude Monet & Alice Hoschede

After two years of suffering and immense fatigue, Alice Monet succumbs, on May 19, 1911, to myeloid leukemia.  She will be buried a few days later at the Giverny cemetery, with her daughter Suzanne and her first husband Ernest Hoschedé

“My poor friend, it’s over.  My companion worshiped dead this morning 4h.  I am clueless, lost, “writes Claude Monet to the art critic Gustave Geffroy, a friend at all times … As early as January 1909, Alice was suffering from fatigue and a liver attack.  “My wife is sick, between life and death, and it is a miracle that she did not leave,” writes the painter in May 1910. “A very rare disease that the greatest doctors can not cure.”  The radiotherapy treatment will, indeed, only delay the painful expiry.  It’s exhausted that Alice, 67, will leave his family …

At the funeral, held Monday, May 22 in the church of Giverny, the master impressionist gives his family and friends including the aging Degas, the image of a helpless septuagenarian.  Overwhelmed by an immense confusion, the artist deserts both his studio and his garden.  His daughter-in-law Marthe, but also Geneviève, the wife of his son-in-law Jean-Pierre Hoschedé, take turns to keep him company and ensure the stewardship of the pink house.  If, in the autumn and to the great relief of all, Claude Monet expresses his desire to “finish some canvases of Venice“, he locks himself up in a semi-solitude.  How could it be otherwise?

Alice was indeed the woman of his life.  It was in 1876 that their destinies intertwined.  Claude Monet is then married to Camille Doncieux while Alice is none other than the wife of Ernest Hoschedé, the art dealer who, two years earlier, acquired the painting “Impression soleil levant”.  At the beginning of the summer and for four months, Claude Monet moved to the Hoschedé castle in Montgeron, where he painted large decorative panels commissioned by his host.  The artist appreciates Alice, a woman of letters and character, with whom he shares long tete-a-tete.  Everything changed in 1878, when Ernest, whose mediocre business acumen was matched only by his insane prodigality, went bankrupt.  His castle is auctioned.  The Monet and Hoschedé families, twelve people in total, decide to share a house in Vétheuil.  Ernest tries, between Belgium and Paris, to restore his coat of arms.  Others will say that unable to bear this social decline, he abandons his own.

Constantly vigil by Alice, Camille died of cancer on September 5, 1879. Alice, who perfectly embodies maternal solicitude, takes care of the whole household.  Ernest Hoschedé, he will return only very rarely in the family bosom.  Had he sensed the rising love between his wife and the impressionist painter?  “I feel that I love you more than you suppose, more than I thought myself,” writes Claude Monet in 1883 to Alice.  Ernest never goes to Giverny, where the couple, who braves the rules of morality and propriety of the nineteenth century, settles that year.  Both will wait until July 16, 1892, sixteen months after Ernest’s death, to unite before God

The one who was “all devotion” will be sorely missed by the painter during the last fifteen years of his life.  But Alice, who loved Claude Monet without sharing, was not just a companion.  She was also the one who made possible the work of the impressionist master

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