By Ann Evans
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As it’s Christmas, what could be nicer than looking at a beautiful garden in summer? Ann Evans looks back at her trip to France earlier this year when she visited Monet’s Garden.
Claude Monet was a French painter whose work gave a name to the art movement ‘impressionism’. This ‘label’ was originally given by an art critique and meant as a derogative remark. But in fact, impressionism became a fitting term accepted and loved the world over, as impressionist artists sought to capture light and natural forms rather classical realism.
Claude Monet became known as the Master of Impressionism. He was unique in that he created his spectacular scenes in reality before painting them in his own unique impressionist style. And this can all be seen if you visit the house and garden in Giverny, France, where he lived for 43 years, from 1883 up to his death in 1926.
Monet was born in Paris on November 14th 1840; he studied at the Academy Suisse and his work gained critical and financial success in the late 1880s and 1890s. In 1883 he moved into his home in Giverny with his family. Originally there was a garden with pine trees, an orchard and high stone walls. But with a passion for gardening, Claude Monet began making the changes that he envisaged.
He first transformed the sloping gardens at the front area of his home, which are one hectare in size. He named this garden the Clos Normand. Today the garden is full of colour, scents, perspectives and symmetries. Flower beds in riots of colour are divided by little alleyways with simple meadow flowers like daisies and poppies grow alongside rare varieties of plants that he bought at great expense back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Monet developed a love for botany which is evident in his paintings. He also had a passion for Japanese art and was an avid collector of Japanese prints which can be seen in his house. His love of Japanese gardens is evident when you explore the Water Garden. Ten years after moving into his house, Monet bought an additional piece of land close to property but on the other side of a railway track.
The land had a small brook running through it and much to the alarm of his neighbours he dug a small pond and lined the banks with plants and trees which they had never seen before, and at first, neighbours feared they might poison the water. The pond was made larger in later years and Monet had Japanese style bridges built. He also planted the beautiful wisteria you see today, and created the most spectacular views that now attract around 500,000 visitors from all over the world every year.
Monet was unique in that he first planted and created the scenes that he would later paint. He loved the reflections of his willows and bridges in the water with its lily pads which he became so famous for. His paintings now adorn museums and art galleries throughout the world and fetch astronomical amounts of money when sold at auction.
To be able to look around through Claude Monet’s family home is another fascinating aspect of any visit to Monet’s Gardens. The house is a sprawling two storey building that blends into the colours of the garden with its pink stone and green window frames and shutters. You can wander from room to room, see some amazing works of art, and even look out from Monet’s bedroom window and see the gardens as he would have viewed them.
After his death in 1926, his son Michel inherited the property, although it was Monet’s step-daughter, Blanche who took care of the house and gardens. But after the Second World War the place was neglected, so that when restoration work began in 1966 in took ten years to bring it back to its full magnificence. It has been open to the public since 1980.
Monet’s Gardens are open to the public from March to November, find out more:
Monet’s Garden, Claude Monet, art, impressionism,