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Monet's Water-Lilies

  • 2 min read

With a major exhibition of Monet’s Water-Lilies opening at MoMA in New York this month we thought we would take a closer look at some Claude Monet’s most iconic works.

Monet’s monumental Water-Lilly paintings fill their canvases, and the surface of the pond becomes a world in itself, inspiring a sense of immersion in nature. His observations of the changing patterns of light on the surface of the water lead to these works becoming almost abstract.

Claude Monet is now best known for the works he produced in his latter years. However after his death art historians and collectors were only interested in his earlier Impressionist work. The work of the 1910s and 1920s depicting his garden at Giverny was considered far too unstructured, and much of the work left in his studio after his death was thought to be unfinished.

It was not until after WWII that contemporary art movements such as Abstract Expressionism transformed people’s attitudes toward Monet’s late works. Now Monet’s ‘Water-Lilies after 1916’ hangs alongside ‘Summertime’ time by Jackson Pollock and ‘Untitled 1903-1970’ by Mark Rothko in Tate Moderns Abstract Expressionism room.

Monet devoted the last 25 years of his life to the portrayal of the pond and its surroundings in Giverny, and you can still visit the garden Monet created in Giverny today. He began work on the gardens in 1883 both designing and planting the gardens before representing them on canvas. Giverny remained his home until he died in 1926 and he painted many of canvases of the same subject such as the Water-Lilies and the Japanese bridge in different lights and at different times of the day and the year.

The Orangerie Museum in Paris is probably the other best know place to see Water-Lilies by Claude Monet. It re opened in 2006 after an extensive renovation which restored the giant Water-Lily canvases to their original setting in the centre of the building, which they have occupied since their installation in 1927 and re-opened the glass roof, which had been covered since the 1960’s. 

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