Is Monet about to become the Panthéon's first famous artist?

Impressionist's remains may be moved from his beloved Giverny for a rare honour

Eighty-four years after his death, Claude Monet, one of the world's favourite Frenchmen, may finally leave his beloved village of Giverny and return to the centre of Paris. President Nicolas Sarkozy is considering whether to honour a promise made by his predecessor, and move the remains of the Impressionist painter to the Panthéon, the last resting place of France's official heroes.

The idea has been revived by the art critic and gallery owner, Guy Wildenstein, to coincide with a vast Monet exhibition that will take place at the Grand Palais in Paris from September this year to January 2011. This will be the largest Monet exhibition in France for 30 years, assembling over 200 paintings from museums and private collections all over the world.

In 1999, former President Chirac promised Mr Wildenstein's father, Daniel Wildenstein – the leading expert on Monet – that he would have the painter's remains moved to the Pantheon. The idea was dropped after the then-culture minister insisted Monet (1840-1926) should remain buried in Normandy in the village churchyard in Giverny, 60 miles west of Paris, close to his celebrated house and water lily garden.

Mr Wildenstein Jr, who owns a leading New York art gallery, has re-opened the issue in a letter to Mr Sarkozy. He points out that the Panthéon's claim to be the last resting place of the official Great and Good of France is undermined by one surprising omission: it contains no celebrated artist, and just one painter, the obscure neo-classicist Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809), a favourite of Napoleon. "I don't want to denigrate (Vien's) talent but all the same," Mr Wildenstein said. "Monet was an artist of the greatest importance, who influenced an entire generation."

Mr Sarkozy was said yesterday to be studying the idea seriously. Late last year, he was accused of a form of political grave digging after he suggested that the body of the novelist Albert Camus should be moved into the Panthéon. Left-wing politicians accused the centre-right president of trying to snatch the body of one of their heroes. Literary critics complained that a spiritual rebel like Camus should not be placed among the official heroes of the French republic.

Proposing the removal of Claude Monet's remains to the Panthéon might help Mr Sarkozy to turn the page – or start a new canvas. Although Monet and his fellow Impressionists were rejected and lampooned by the French art establishment when they emerged in the early 1870s, they have long since been accepted as one of the greatest symbols of French creativity.

Only the President can officially propose a new Panthéon resident but even he has to win the approval of the candidate's family. In 1999, President Chirac gave a solemn promise to Daniel Wildenstein that he would have Monet's remains removed to the domed building on the Paris left-bank. Nothing happened before the older Mr Wildenstein, who spent 50 years drawing up the official catalogue of Monet's works, died in 2001.

The centre-right President Chirac was sharing power at the time with a Socialist-led government. The then culture minister, Catherine Trautmann, rejected the idea of moving Monet's body for artistic and sentimental reasons. In a reply to a parliamentary question in 1999, she wrote that Monet was "passionately attached to Giverny where he lived for many years and is buried beside his wife. Claude Monet was a man of the light and all who appreciate the joy and beauty given by this great artist would wish to see him left in peace in Giverny".

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Sport
Lewis Hamtilon and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg
SportShould F1's most aggressive driver curb his instincts in title decider?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin