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Lose yourself in Monet's immersive waterlily paintings
In his garden in Normandy, Claude Monet had a pond filled with waterlilies. The surface of the pond offered an extraordinary challenge to him as a painter, combining a sense of the fluidity of water, the shifting patterns of reflected sky, and the plants floating in this ambiguous space. He began to explore the subject in the 1890s, and eventually constructed a special studio in which to paint huge canvases capturing the many variations.
In 1916, in the middle of the First World War, Monet confirmed his wish to donate a cycle of waterlily paintings to the French state. Though hampered by ill-health, he was very productive, and this painting is one of many from that period.
Although celebrated at the time, Monet’s late waterlilies were rediscovered thirty years later by a younger generation of abstract painters. Artists including Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler and Cy Twombly admired Monet’s late paintings and found affinities with their own work. Like Monet, they worked on a large scale so that viewers could immerse themselves in the colour and expansive composition of their paintings.
Claude Monet, Water-Lilies after 1916
For Monet, his garden was an ‘outside studio’. At his home in Giverny, near Paris, he created a Japanese-style water garden. Water-lilies floating on this pond became the main subjects of his later paintings. Filling the canvas, the pond becomes a world in itself. Water-lilies gives us a sense of being immersed in nature. Monet was fascinated with light and its changing effects on the natural environment. Here his focus on the light hitting the water brings his painting closer to abstraction.
Gallery label, June 2020
artworks in Claude Monet
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