Located on the right bank of the river Seine about 80km (50mi) west of the city of Paris lies the village of Giverny. This picturesque village was chosen by Claude Monet to be the location of his home and wonderful gardens which he would eventually immortalise on his canvases.
In 1883, Monet was passing through Giverny on a train and was very impressed with what he saw. He decided to return where he rented a small cottage, and its gardens, before raising enough money to buy the them both outright in 1890. When Monet arrived in 1883 the land that today froms the gardens was a downward sloping block surrounded by stone walls and covered with an orchard. Over the upcoming years Monet would mould and sculpture the gardens combining many natural features such as rivers, streams and natural ponds with man-made features such as the Japanese Bridge.
The gardens are decorated with a Clos Normand, a rectangular plot which is covered by archways full of climbing plants intertwined with numerous coloured scrubs including wisterias and azaleas. Monet mixed the most simple of flowers, such as daisies and poppies, with some of the rarest varieties of plants to be found often bought at great cost.
“all my money goes into my garden, and I am in raptures” – Claude Monet
He did not organise his gardens in the traditional way nor did he build boundaries confining his creations, instead he married flowers according to their colours and let them grow rather freely. Monet would ultimately make a garden full of perspectives, symmetries and colours.
The Water Garden
A small stream, the Ru, would be the source for Monet to build a wonderful pond which would eventually be covered with beautiful water lilies and crossed by a Japanese bridge, which itself would be central feature of a series of paintings.
From this time, until his death in 1926 Monet would paint numerous scenes of, and from, his most impressive garden including works such as his Water Lily Pond in 1896.
Monet’s presence along with the towns natural beauty and atmosphere began to attract other artists, of the Impressionist movement including Willard Metcalf, Louis Ritter and Theodore Earl Butler, who would marry Monet’s step-daughter in 1992. The turn of the century saw other artists such as Fredrick Carl Frieseke, Richard Miller and Guy Rose arrive who collectively would be known as the “Giverny Group”.
The death of Monet, along with World War 1, would see the end of the of the colony, however their legacy would give rise to the term “Decorative Impressionism”.
Never before had a painter so shaped his natural subjects before painting them, and so, he created his works twice.
A visit to Giverny & Monet’s Gardens is available on;