“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” —Claude Monet
Having had the opportunity to view one of Claude Monet’s famous Water Lily paintings at MoMa in 2014, and now to have had the opportunity this past July to see the water lilies themselves (albeit many generations later) in the environment he captured them at Giverny, France, I feel most fortunate. (Click here to discover where each of his Water Lily paintings can be found throughout the world, and be sure if you are in Paris, to check out his paintings at Musée de L’Orangerie of which he gave strict instructions for them to be placed on a curved wall.)
Entrance to Monet’s gardens is just under 10 Euros, and I visited during the height of the tourist season. But as I overheard a local from the area commenting, visiting year-round, soaking up the beauty of each season, is a special treat.
While the images you see in today’s post as well as the video (see below) are void of tourists most of the time, the ample foliage camouflages well the hundreds of people who were basking in the natural beauty. In fact, at one point, while in the kitchen which I share images of below, I found myself after a few minutes of waiting to capture the stove sans tourist alone with only one other tourist patiently waiting to do the same thing. For more than five minutes it seemed, we had the room to ourselves, so we both looked at each other with ecstatic disbelief (and huge grins) and began snapping photos of the unobstructed view of all the copper detail.
Last spring (2017) I had the opportunity to review a new book which examines closely the history, the inhabitants and the grounds – both indoor and out – of Giverny during the time that Monet made it his home. While Monet’s stay began in 1883, many impressionist artists began spending much time at Giverny beginning in 1887, largely because of Claude Monet. He bought the property (house and land) outright in 1890 when he had enough money and lived there until his death in 1926. Upon buying the land, he wanted to create landscapes of which he could paint – the gardens, the ponds, etc. Titled A Day with Claude Monet in Giverny by Adrien Goetz, his images capture all that I am showing you here as well as much more. The color I discovered during my visit was striking to my eye, the clarity and brilliance. Arriving 30 minutes after opening (9:30 are the opening hours), I had the good fortune of a few more moments of morning light which was a bit gentler. But it truly was the grounds, the blooms and the French country blue sky that made all the difference as none of these photos have been heavily edited and most none at all.
“One can do something if one can see and understand it…”
Upon Monet’s death, he left the property to his son, who in 1966 left the grounds to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1966. The museum as it is called, the house and grounds, was opened to the public for visitation in 1980. Boasting fewer than 250 people during the late 19th century, the small village of Giverny now has just over 500 in its population.
A luxury for the eyes and the senses of sound, touch and scent, the popularity of Monet’s gardens is completely understandable, and to see the grounds in full bloom during the summer is something special. Each creative will find a routine and a way of life that is unique to their temperament, senses and craft, and Monet certainly listened and dutifully followed what his artist-self needed. Throughout the images below I have included a handful of his quotes about his craft, the gardens and life itself.
Have a look at the video compiled of my tour in Giverny below and for more time with many of the images seen in the video, they are also shared in the post below.
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. ”
“It took me time to understand my waterlilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them. ”—Claude Monet
“I am only good at two things, and those are: gardening and painting. ”
The stove with a rare unimpeded view as described above.
“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly. ”—Claude Monet