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A Visit to the Legion of Honor to See Monet – The Early Years

I just spent the most beautiful spring day in San Francisco exploring the art of Claude Monet at the Legion of Honor. Monet has been a favorite artist of mine for years. I truly fell in love with his art and Impressionism waaaaay back in high school.

A Visit to the Legion of Honor to See Monet - The Early Years

Given the fact that I am a huge fan, I have been waiting for a few weeks to get to San Francisco to enjoy the exhibit. I was not disappointed.

Before I talk about the exhibit though, I have to say that the best way to visit the Honor of Legion is to head there early – before the crowds, and to follow the museum visit with lunch at the Cliff House. Yes, no visit to the Legion of Honor is complete without stopping at the Cliff House. This was a lesson I learned from a dear friend.

The Cliff House

The Cliff House sits high on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean and has huge windows that offer magnificent views! The food is absolutely delicious as are the drinks. The Legion of Honor and the Cliff House are a perfect pairing.

Now back to the museum…

A Visit to the Legion of Honor to See Monet – The Early Years

Monet in his early years spent time playing with light and water. His winter scenes showed layers of color – blues, grays, pink, violets, yellows – so very subtle. So very beautiful.

Monet:  the Early Years

Of course, my photos do not do the art justice!

Monet the Early Years

Monet the Early Years

You really need to look at Monet’s work up close and from afar. The large brush strokes of the water gives the scene below movement. (Seascape 1866) When you look up close, you can see the layers of color brushed side by side. When you stand back and view the piece, the colors blend, and you see the light bouncing off the waves.

Monet the Early Years  (Seascape 1866)

Monet the Early Years  (Seascape 1866)

Monet’s art in his early years is very different than the beautiful water lilies he is so well known for, but you can see his transformation into more and more of what later becomes known as Impressionism.

Monet the Early Years (the Port at Argenteuil 1872)

I loved this scene, I would love to take a stroll here – the Port at Argenteuil (1872).

Monet the Early Years (the Port at Argenteuil 1872)

The exhibit is absolutely awe inspiring.

I was lucky enough to have visited Giverny, the home of Monet in France in 2011 with both my daughters. We spent an entire day meandering through his vast gardens and exploring his home.


Wandering through the Legion of Honor took me back to my visit to Paris. Some of my favorite pieces at the Legion were of Monet’s Paris’ city streets. When you visit the exhibit, you need to be sure to rent the audio tour – it not only talks about the art, but shares the story of Monet and of his struggles with poverty, of his collaborations with other artists, of his marriage to Camille, the birth of his two sones, of his leaving France for England during the French and Prussian war, of his leaving England and moving to Holland, and his eventual return to France.

Monet's Camille

Monet’s early work contained portraits of his wife Camille (above) as well as his infant son. It also included his work with still life.

Monet Still Life

Truly beautiful!

There is so much more to see, and it really needs to be seen in person to appreciate the magnificence of the art.

Remember to visit the Legion of Honor Museum early, you beat the crowds and you get easy parking. It’s best to buy your tickets on-line in advance to ensure the time you want. They allow visitors in every thirty minutes, but you can stay in the exhibit for as long as you wish.

And remember – a visit to the museum is best followed by a bite to eat at the Cliff House.

A perfect day in San Francisco!

(1) Comment

  1. yvonne russell says:

    Thank you for sharing some of the art at the museum! It is a good introduction for wanting to see more. Monet is my favorite artist of all time.

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