I’ve never been to a Sotheby’s Auction. Or a Christie’s. Not in person. I have gone online and registered for a couple of their venues. But never to sit down there, on those royal-blue, crushed-velvet chairs, in the packed room, with all the straight-backed men and women, clutching their little numbered paddles, while the paintings are ushered out, one by one, in the white-gloved hands of the little Sotheby helpers.
Do the bidders carry $73 million in their wallets, or write a check? I guess they could put it on plastic, but that would be one enormous credit line.
I’m only reminded because today is Claude Monet’s birthday.
I would have bought you a painting, but I didn’t have the Monet. I know. I know. It is a tired, old pun.
Okay, seriously. Do you know why Van Gogh became a painter in the first place? He didn’t have an ear for music.
I will stop. But. If it ain’t Baroque, then don’t fix it.
Back to Claude Monet, born on November 14, 1840. In Paris, France. Old Claude is one popular painter. A lot of people love his work. He was one of the founders of Impressionism. He was impassioned with the understanding of the effects of light. Any light. He studied it like crazy. He mostly explored what it did, as time passed, on the various color of objects. His Water Lillies and such.
The highest price ever paid for a Monet was for “Nymphéas en fleur” (Water Lilies in Bloom). He painted that bad boy during the years of 1914 to 1917. The final auction price was $84.6 million, sold via Christie’s, New York on May 8th, 2018.
I bet Mr. Claude never imagined that kind of a haul. I’m not sure who owned it or who bought it either. But I’m fairly certain, they weren’t Preble County.
Anyway, he was driven. He was intensely enthusiastic about his art. And that process seemed to intrigue him the most, to captivate him to the fullest, when he was noticing the light. That movement of light. Watching those beams of brilliance as they danced across anything.
And he tried to catch it.
Here’s what I think about people. About all of us. We all have our moments when we notice the brightness. The glittering glow of illumination.
It doesn’t happen all the time, for sure. I mean, most days, we are just standing at the counter making a chicken salad sandwich, and we flip on the TV, and watch reruns of Law and Order. And that’s that.
But every once in a great while, that spark, that flicker or flare, will trickle across the front of our brains and we see it. We notice. The brilliance of light that this life has to offer, at times. If our eyes are open, and we are paying close attention to the moment when it decides to hoist itself into our existence. And we see it. And we try to catch it and remember, and share it, or keep it, or simply let it go. That whiff of awareness.
Some very rare times we are able to catch this gift in our ordinary lives.
And then there are those, like Monet, who worked to put it on canvas.
I suppose we can all move this gift, from one moment to the next. But we each find our own way to paint the world, and share the light.
“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956-1968
“To shine your brightest light is to be who you truly are.”
― R. Bennett
“You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day