Monet’s 1899 water lily pond is one of the artist’s numerous masterpieces on the theme of water lilies. And this version can be found in one of my favorite museums in the world the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Monet’s Water Lilies
Claude Monet spends much of his time in his countryside in Giverny, northwest of Paris. And he considers his garden his most beautiful masterpiece. Thus was born the series of works with water lilies as protagonists. There are several variants of the pond that are found today in all the most important museums in the world.
But this version in particular is one of my favorites. I had the opportunity to see her in Paris for the first time as a child and then on several of my tours at the Musée d’Orsay. The harmonies of colors are combined with the play of light on the pond and in the representation of the arched bridge that crosses the work.
Claude Monet and Impressionism
Monet is considered the greatest of the Impressionist painters. He founded this movement and has been a promoter of it all his life. His intent in art is to record and report the impressions and sensations he feels when he paints outdoors – en plein air. His style and his choice of colors so bright to follow the changes of the light initially shocked the public of Paris in the late nineteenth century.
And the term “impressionists” was conceived by the journalist Louis Leroy who meant it with a negative meaning. The definition comes from a work by Monet: Impression soleil levant of 1874. However, there will be eight major Impressionist exhibitions in total and the artists who will be exhibited Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley will each find their own space in history.
The characteristic of Monet’s painting is that it is considered unfinished since in that period the academic style does not accept that the brushstroke is seen in the work. Throughout his life he is fascinated by the effects of light and atmosphere and very often represents these effects of light on water. And his garden in Giverny, especially in the last years of his life, becomes his perfect refuge to carry on his impressionist ideas and represent light, water and nature.
Monet’s water lily pond. The subject of the work
In his garden by Giverny Monet creates two separate areas: a flower garden and a water garden inspired by the Japanese model. He has been studying the play of light and nature of both for over 20 years. The subject of this work by Orsay is none other than one of the versions of Monet’s series paintings. Monet’s aim is to capture the same subject over and over, over and over. But always at different times of the day or in different light conditions.
The water lily pond becomes a recurring and main motif in its later years and exhibits 10 different versions in 1900, a year after the creation of this work. This genre of works represents the ideals of Impressionism at best. conveys a strong sensitivity towards nature and an incredible passion for the place where Monet lives and paints.
From the point of view of composition, the work is built around the central arch. Under the arch in the center is the vanishing point of the perspective and even if it might seem simple, in reality the work is studied in detail. Each element serves to enhance the sense of depth but also to give space to the representation of nature.
The technique of realization
In ‘s water lily pond Orsay MonetThese spots have two main purposes: to create a sense of texture in the foliage and to make the most of the plays and variations of light. Sometimes even Monet applies color with a palette knife to give more substance to his works. And some inventions from this period in Europe have a major impact on his art. One of these is the invention of tube colors in 1841. The possibility of having colors already mixed and transportable also outside has really changed the approach of many artists to the realization of their works. And certainly Monet is one of those most influenced by this discovery.
Monet’s water lily pond. Details of the work
Il ponte divides the work into two parts and is located in the center of the composition. It creates a delicate curve that does not make it imposing, but on the contrary fits into the nature that surrounds it. The shape is very close to the typical Japanese print bridges that Monet owns in his home in Giverny and which he admires a lot. The admiration for oriental art and Japan in particular is typical of those years in the works of Monet as well as in those of many other artists such as Gauguin or Van Gogh.
In reality, the bridge is of a very intense green color and is covered with white wisteria in summer. Of the five bridges in his water garden this is the most characteristic and present in Monet’s works.
The light in
Monet’s work uses very rich strokes of color to render the effects of sunlight. In the case of light passing through trees, for example, there are several close and complementary layers. the layers of green and dark and blue give structure to the trees while the light ones of yellow and light green determine the light that passes through the trees.
In representing pond water, Monet’s main aim is to render the effects of water and light in nature. And to do so, it creates an almost abstract effect. When observed closely, none of the pond flowers stand out precisely with sharp features. The flowers are composed of juxtaposed color spots. And these spots of color change slightly according to the area of the pond. The strokes become small and the color more towards purple as the eye moves towards the edge. The reflections of the trees stand out decisively and are made through vertical splashes of color.
The water lilies
The water lilies as in other works by Monet are the protagonists. They are represented with touches of white and thick color, patches of pink and strokes of more intense red. This mix of colors and tones captures the delicacy of this flower on the water. In this work the leaves and flowers are still distinguished but with the passage of time and in the different versions of the water lilies we can definitely see a change. Some representations show a distinction between flower and leaf. Others, on the contrary, do not allow to distinguish between the two by creating spots of color that make the idea of nature almost abstract.
The willow tree and the grass
On the left of the work a tree stands out from the others particularly: the willow. Its long branches are represented through strong vertical brushstrokes. And it is reflected in the water of the pond in green and blue areas that make you think of a tree very rich in leaves.
On the sides of the pond another natural element stands out particularly: the tufts of tall grass. They were made through long curved vertical brushstrokes that recall the shape of the bridge and make the work even more harmonious.
Monet returns to his works several times even after finishing them to add splashes of color and achieve the desired effect of light representation. However, most are signed. They are often signed with colors that emerge from the canvas, for example in this case with the intense red color that stands out from the green that prevails on the canvas.
Claude Monet. The history of the artist
Monet is the leading exponent of the Impressionist movement in France. And he makes outdoor painting his greatest source of inspiration. He depends outdoors by exploiting water, nature and the effects of light on his subjects.
He was born in France in 1840, the son of a wealthy family and spent most of his childhood in Le Havre, a town on the northwest coast of France. Here he met the painter Eugène Boudin who encouraged him to paint outdoors and passed on his passion to him. This will become the choice of expression in his works for Moment throughout his life. Its purpose is to capture the feeling of being part of nature through light, colors and changes in tone.
To develop the artistic technique, Monet enrolled at the Paris Academy and then studied in the studio of Charles Gleyre, where he met another artist of the greatest Impressionists: Renoir.
During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 Monet spent a period in London. Here he studies the great masterpieces of Constable and Turner and paints on the Thames. the following year he moved to Argenteuil, near Paris, where he produced some of his most interesting works.
in 1874 he exhibited in the first Impressionist exhibition, but in a few years in 188 ‘the group of artists gathered under this movement began to divide. Monet is one of the most idealistic and remains faithful to the group’s ideas. In a few years in 1883 he moved to Giverny, where he created The water lily pond. Unfortunately, his eyesight deteriorates over time but he continues to paint despite this. becomes an increasingly famous artist and dies in Giverny in 1926 known as one of the greatest artists of his time.