Claude Monet stayed in room next door to the Monet Suite at the Savoy, claim scientists
For £720 per person, art lovers could stay in the room from which the artist famously spent six months painting his landscapes of the River Thames in London.
However, a new study has now shown that those prepared to pay for the Monet Suite are not actually experiencing the painter's time at the hotel, but that of his next door neighbour.
Scientists have analysed the French Impressionist's paintings and discovered that he actually stayed in the rooms adjacent to the Monet Suite at the Savoy.
Professor John Thornes, the lead author at the University of Birmingham, said: "It is amazing that over 100 years later with all the analysis of Monet that no one has ever done this before.
"It shows he certainly didn't stay in the Monet suite they were pushing."
He said that they calculated the position from the scale of Cleopatra's Needle, the Ancient Egyptian obelisk erected on Victoria Embankment, against Charing Cross Bridge, now known as Hungerford Bridge.
Art historians have long known that Monet, not one to suffer for his art, spent six months in a total of three visits to the Savoy Hotel to paint his views of the Thames.
The vantage point had been recommended to him by the British-based American artist James Whistler.
In 1899 he stayed on the sixth floor but when he returned in 1900 and 1901 that floor was used for recovering soldiers from the Second Boer War.
Instead he moved one floor down. From here he followed a strict routine.
Fortified by two English breakfasts, he would spend the morning painting the sun rising over Waterloo and Charing Cross Bridges. He would then cross the river and from St Thomas' Hospital paint the House of Parliament.
He had about 100 canvases on the go at the same time and would wait for the correct time of day and weather conditions to work on each.
The result is remarkable snap shot of London that is so accurate that now scientists have not only been able to calculate the exact rooms he stayed in but also when he first started the paintings.
For his paintings of Waterloo Bridge the scientists have discovered that during Monet’s stays at the Savoy during 1900 and 1901 the artist used a balcony on the fifth floor of the hotel as his vantage point.
They have been able to calculate this by comparing his work with that of his friend Whistler who had painted Waterloo Bridge from the sixth floor.
Whistler’s work clearly shows a large triangular stretch of the Thames beyond the bridge in front of the South Bank.
However none of Monet’s representations of the same bridge shows this large stretch of water, which, due to a restricted view, suggests that all of Monet’s paintings of Waterloo Bridge were painted from the fifth floor.
Monet included Cleopatra’s Needle, in the foreground of two of his representations of Charing Cross Bridge, and the geometry of the needle’s alignment with the bridge piers implies that he occupied the suites comprising rooms 610 and 611 in 1899 and the suite directly below, 510 and 511, in 1900 and 1901.
In order to cash in on this notoriety of their guest, the hotel opened the Monet Suite in rooms 512 and 513 of the hotel and charged £720 a night. A full Monet Suite Experience including meals and tour pushed the price up to £2,600.
The hotel, which has been closed for a £100 million refit since 2007 and is due to open in September, admitted that the actual rooms that Monet stayed in could not be converted into suites so the nearest room that could be was used instead.
Susan Scott, archivist at the Savoy, said: "Monet actually shared a bathroom with three other rooms and his rooms were only made ensuite in a refit in 1910 when the balconies were removed to make space.
"When we created a Monet suite the only way to do a suite was to move along one. In the new refit it will actually be in the exact rooms."
The paper was published in the journal of the Royal Geographical Society.
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