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  • Claude Monet
    Nov 14, 1840 - Dec 5, 1926
  • Pathway in Monet's Garden at Giverny - Claude Monet was a French painter, initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style. He is regarded as the archetypal Impressionist in that his devotion to the ideals of the movement was unwavering throughout his long career, and it is fitting that one of his pictures - Impression: Sunrise (Musée Marmottan, Paris; 1872) - gave the group his name.
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Pathway in Monet's Garden at Giverny
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  • Pathway in Monet's Garden at Giverny

  • Claude Monet
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  • 1901-2

    Monet's paintings of his water-garden and water-lilies at Giverny occupied him for many years in the latter part of his life and were his last great work. Like the works of Turner in the final stage, they were for a long time misunderstood and unappreciated but similarly revived in esteem in the light of modern reappraisal. By the end of 1890 Monet was making enough from the sales of his pictures to buy his house at Giverny outright and soon after began improvements to the garden which included the formation of a pond from a marshy tract by damming a stream that ran into the river Epte. He had a bridge built over the pond `in Japanese taste' and his first paintings of the water-garden in a series, 1899-1900, give prominence to the bridge with water-lilies beneath and weeping willows, by that time well-grown, around it. These pictures formed a quiet beginning to what was to become an increasingly exciting enterprise.

    In the second phase of forty-eight pictures produced between 1903 and 1908, he dispensed with the bridge which had been a somewhat conventional accessory, set his angle of vision nearer to the water surface and composed his picture simply of the water-lilies and reflections in the water, with only a suggestion of trees and other vegetation on the banks in the background. The pond became a sort of magic mirror holding such amazing depth and beauty of color and variety of light as can be appreciated here. More akin to Japan in spirit that the hump-backed bridge was the decorative sense that Monet now displayed in the selection of the areas of blue and green leaf and the touches of white and red in vivid design against the deeps of color to the right and in the foreground of this painting. As the series continued Monet made modifications in his scheme of design; although he used large canvases he limited the number of plants to appear in them and increased their size. Finally he painted them from almost directly overhead, thus eliminating normal perspective, the play of light on the surface place being now the main feature. In this decorative treatment, as may be noticed in other works of the turn of the century, there came a certain suggestion of art nouveau.

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Other paintings by Claude Monet:

Autumn on the Seine at Argenteuil
Autumn on the Seine at Argenteuil
Women in the Garden
Women in the Garden
Tulip Fields at Sassenheim
Tulip Fields at Sassenheim
The Road Bridge at Argenteuil
The Road Bridge at Argenteuil
Claude MonetIn 1890 Monet had bought a strip of marshland across the road from his house and flower garden, through which flowed a tributary of the Epte. By diverting this stream, he began to construct a water-lily garden. Soon weeping willows, iris, and bamboo grew around a free-form pool, clusters of lily pads and blossoms floated on the quiet water, and a Japanese bridge closed the composition at one end. By 1900 this unique product of Monet's imagination (for his Impressionism had become more subjective) was in itself a major work of environmental art--an exotic lotus land within which he was to meditate and paint for more than 20 years. The first canvases of lilies, water, and the Japanese bridge were only about one yard square, but their unprecedented open composition, with the large blossoms and pads suspended as if in space, and the azure water in which clouds were reflected, implied an encompassing environment beyond the frame. This concept of embracing spatiality, new to the history of painting and only implicit in the first water-lily paintings, was expanded by 1925 into a cycle of huge murals to be installed in Paris in two 80-foot oval rooms in the Orangerie of the Tuileries. These were described in 1952 by the painter André Masson as "the Sistine Chapel of Impressionism." This crowning achievement of Monet's long, probing study of nature--his striving to render his impressions, as he said, "in the face of the most fugitive effects"--was not dedicated until after his death. The many large studies for the Orangerie murals, as well as other unprecedented and unique works painted in the water garden between 1916 and 1925, were almost unknown until the 1950s but are now distributed throughout the major private collections and museums of the world. Despite failing eyesight, Monet continued to paint almost until his death in 1926.