"It took me sometime to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for pleasure and cultivated them without thinking of painting them. A landscape does not sink into you all at once. And then suddenly, I had a revelation of the magic of my pond. I took up my palette. Since then I have hardly had another subject."
~ Claude Monet to writer Mark Elder, 1920s
This past weekend I had the immense pleasure of walking through an exhibit of some of Monet's famous water lilies paintings, and taking in every brush stroke and touch of color from just a few feet away. This one, which was lent to the exhibit by a fine art museum in San Francisco, was so bold and beautiful, I had to be pulled away from it.
I learned that Monet was as passionate a gardener as he was a painter - just take a look at what grows in his gardens every season. And that he created his famous water lilies paintings, nearly 300 of them, at his home in Giverny from age 74 to 86. The period photograph above was also a part of the exhibit, and shows Monet by his beloved pond.
I loved learning that he did not care to copy what he saw, but rather to transfer onto his canvas the impressions made on him by what he saw..."I get madder and madder on giving back what I feel", he said. I know I often feel that way about the photographs I take.
I realized the genius of his work when the docent showed us how differently beautiful his paintings looked when standing up close to them, and when standing far away from them. I left the museum ecstatic that his home and gardens in Giverny are open for all of us to visit. They are 80 kilometers from Paris, and definitely on my list.