Gerald Van der Kemp, in the family salon at Versailles wearing the uniform of Academician
In the 1970’s, Gerald Van der Kemp had been elected Member to The Institut de France, The Académie des Beaux Arts. He was also very near retirement in 1980 as a French civil servant.
The Institut owns three historical properties: one is Giverny, bequeathed to The Académie by Claude Monet’s son, Michel. As the Van der Kemp’s had more than proven their unique golden touch with Versailles, The Institut asked if they would consider restoring the abandoned ruin of Claude Monet’s House and Gardens.
They said “yes”. Gerald was himself an accomplished painter and gardener. The project of restoring Giverny was second nature to him.
Once agian, the Van der Kemp’s turned to their American Patrons. This time it was the flower passionate Lila Acheson Wallace, owner of the defunct Reader’s Digest and several Monet’s, who became its first benefactress. Others quickly followed: The Honorable Walter Annenberg, the Mellons and so forth… Today, charming Giverny receives over 700,000 visitors per year!
Gerald Van der Kemp accompanying His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall
The Prince, an accomplished watercolorist, painting Monet's Japanese Bridge