Travels with Victoria: Monet's Garden at Giverny

The rose trees stand in front of Claude Monet’s pink house with green shutters at Giverny on the Seine. Here is the website of the Foundation Claude Monet for more details about the house and gardens.

I haven’t exactly formulated a Bucket List of things I MUST do, but visiting Monet’s home would definitely have been included.  I grew up loving all the Monet works in the Chicago Art Institute and loving all the stories about how the Impressionists were shunned by the Art World at first and then triumphed by becoming so popular in the 20th (and 21st) centuries that their work is almost considered low-brow all over again!  It’s that old saw: (over) familiarity breeds contempt, I guess.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) began living at Giverny in 1883, eventually purchasing the property and devoting himself to cultivating his garden and painting it for almost 43 years.  He was one of the founders of the movement known as Impressionism, and his works can be found in almost all major (and many minor) art museums in the world.  When they come on the market, they are sold for millions of dollars, pounds or euros.

While on board the ship, I read Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell, an engaging novel about Monet’s first love. It fit in perfectly with this visit to the house where he lived with Camille’s sons and his second wife who had a large family herself.

Though I tried to cut from my pictures as many of the visitors as I could, I thought it was quite crowded on the day we visited, but guides assured us that it was actually a slow day.  Particularly as we negotiated the rooms inside the house, it seemed packed.

No pictures were allowed inside, but I did follow many others in sneaking a shot out the window at the garden from above.  This website reveals all and will lead you to many more accounts and pictures of Monet’s life, his paintings, and his garden.

Monet was obsessed with the play of light on his subjects. He painted the same or similar scenes over and over in various light and weather conditions: haystacks, cathedral facades, landscapes, and of course, his garden.

As of June 1, 2011, an Englishman called James Priest took over as head gardener.  His background includes training at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and many years working with Gilbert Vahe, who rescued and redeveloped Monet’s Giverny gardens. 

The garden is divided by the road through the village, and the two halves — one near the house and the other mainly the pond — are joined by a walkway under the now-busy road.

Perhaps Monet’s most famous paintings are those he did of this pond and its waterlilies. 

The pond is much larger than I expected, with more than one little Japanese bridge — at least today.

The version of Water Lilies he painted in 1916, below, hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

And below, my photo of the water lilies in the pond on June 1, 2011.

Below, another painting, from 1904

 Can you tell the difference?  And, just for good measure, here are a two more of my pond photos…

Thank you, Claude Monet, for bringing so much pleasure to so many people.  Perhaps I will revisit Monet and take a look at the many paintings he did in England someday.
This is next to the last of my posts from our cruise.  After returning to the English Channel from the Seine, we crossed to Dover….soon.

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