Inspiration in Monet's Gardens
Inspiration in Monet's Gardens
We travel to France to visit a legend
For artists with a passion for flowers and gardens, Monet's gardens in Giverny are the ultimate destination. After completing a wonderful painting workshop in Provence, John and I took the TGV train back north to Paris, where we spent a few days enjoying the city and making a special trip to Giverny. After years of reading about Monet's life and gardens, this was the icing on the cake for us. The gardens are located in the Valley of the River Epte, about 50 miles west of Paris and took ten years to restore, finally opening to the public in 1980. Monet lived in his home in Giverny for almost 43 years (from 1883 to 1926) slowly developing the gardens as inspiration for his impressionistic paintings. He initially developed the gardens near the house, which he called the Clos Normand. Ten years later, in 1893, he built the water garden, after he was able to purchase additional land across the road. The water garden was based on designs from Monet's Japaneses prints, and was enlarged over time to include more bridges and plantings. His passion for color is seen in both his large canvases and in the way he designed his gardens—brilliant strokes of blooming color. "All my money goes into the garden", he said, adding, "I am in raptures." The German art historian Julius Meier-Graefe concluded after seeing them: "Monet reveals himself best . . . in the garden he has planted about his country house. He has made it on the same priciple as his pictures . . . Every individual blossom contributes to the mass of color."
The large amount of visitors makes even sketching on location difficult, so inspiration from the gardens is limited to soaking in the light and colors, the air and fragrance, and using the camera for visual references. Visit: http://fondation-monet.com/en.
The estate is divided into two distinct areas—the walled gardens at the house and the waterlily ponds with willow trees, wisteria and the famous green Japanese bridges. In order to visit the water gardens, visitors must use a tunnel built under the road which brings them safely up into the entrance of the water garden where they are greeted with a complete change of space, light and plants. The transition from the subterranean gloom up into the light and soaring space of the magical water garden is a wonderful reawakening into the second world of Monet's creation. Though the gardens can be crowded at times, we were able to find a bench near the pond and just sit quietly, enjoying the tableaux and the pleasant spring weather. What a wonderful thing it would be to build a pond for ourselves, we mused. Thanks to Monet's example, we could instantly appreciate the aesthetic potential of such an endeavor, and it remains on our to-do list for the near future. Until then, we are satisfied to know that we can always visit Giverny again and again, and each time find new inspiration in his living work of art.
Along the path in the water garden
The arched walkway in the Clos Normand
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