365 Days of Art: June 22 – Monet Writes Nasty Letter to His Eye Surgeon

Claude Monet, The Japanese Footbridge, c. 1922

June 22, 1923

Monet writes a letter excoriating his eye surgeon, Dr. Charles Coutela, who had performed a cataract operation on Monet’s right eye in January, when Monet was 82.

I might have finished the Décorations which I have to deliver in April and I’m certain now that I won’t be able to finish them as I’d have liked. That’s the greatest blow I could have had and it makes me sorry that I ever decided to go ahead with that fatal operation. Excuse me for being so frank and allow me to say that I think it’s criminal to have placed me in such a predicament.”

If it sounds like Monet isn’t a very good patient–well, he isn’t. Immediately after the surgery, he refuses to rest his eyes, saying that it would interfere with his work. He tries to rip off his bandages, and after stewing for six months, he finally lashes out at his doctor with this letter.

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