GIVERNY, FRANCE, December 23, 2013 — The Impressionist art movement of the late 19th century required three main elements to evolve: the popularity of photography, the ever-changing light of
Since 1980, travelers, artists and flower lovers alike have immersed themselves in the vibrant surroundings of Monet’s home and gardens at Giverny.
It matters little which discipline you prefer. Giverny is infectious. It reaches deep into your soul. It is impossible to be unaffected by it in some manner. At Monet’s Giverny, first impressions are lasting impressions, and there are many.
Technological advances made the pursuit of photography a popular hobby in the late 1800s. Many believed that reproducing reality through pictures would minimize an artist’s ability to express himself. As it turned out, the opposite was true and the seeds of Impressionism were born.
Thanks to photography, the artist was now able to experiment with light and color by taking his palette outdoors. Artists of the day sought to create perceptions of nature rather than the precise representations that had limited them in the past. For the artist, painting became a means of expressing emotion and color was regarded as an extension of his soul. Both are clearly elements that cameras of the period were unable to duplicate.
When Monet was five years old, his family moved to
Around 1846, Monet met Eugène Boudin, a fellow artist who was painting scenes in and around the picturesque harbor
Without changing perspective, a scene in this environment can alternate its mood in a matter of seconds. Little wonder such natural phenomena would inspire the soul of creativity.
Monet was 32 when he created a painting called “Impression Sunrise.” When it was exhibited in an art show in Paris in 1874, art critic Louis Leroy took the first word of the title and disparagingly call Monet’s work “Impressionism.” Leroy has long since disappeared from the world of art, but Impressionism lives on today as one of the major artistic movements in history.
Today, “Impression Sunrise,” depicting a landscape in the
Four years after the death of his beloved wife, Camille, Monet caught a glimpse of Giverny from the window of a local train while traveling between
This house at the time was situated near the main road of town. But it was the nearby barn that piqued Monet’s creativity the most. For the next several years, the artist converted the long two-story building into a house and studio overlooking his magnificent gardens. With huge picture windows that opened out to the gardens, Monet was sheltered from the elements so that he could work in any weather.
What frequently is overlooked in Monet’s life is that he was a world class horticulturist. The gardens were his own design, and Monet frequently changed them according to the seasons. So prolific was he in these pursuits that he was almost as famous for his botanical skills as he was for his painting.
Also fascinating in this regard was Monet’s decision to divert a section of the main river in order to create his lily pond. The famed Japanese bridge and lily pond, which are situated across the road from the studio, are accessible by a small connecting tunnel.
Initially the lily pond was a quiet refuge for Monet until he had an epiphany and realized it would be an ideal subject for his painting. So infatuated did Monet become with the lilies, that once he discovered their endless beauty and possibilities, he hardly painted anything else for the remainder of his life.
Claude Monet was 86 when he died of cancer in 1926. He is buried in Giverny in the church cemetery.
Upon the artist’s death, Monet’s only son, Michel, inherited the home, gardens and lily pond. In 1966, Michel bequeathed the property to the
Hours are 9:30 am to 6:00 pm with the last admission at 5:30 pm. Regular admission for adults and seniors is about $12.50. Children under seven are free and tickets for disabled visitors are approximately $6.50. There are also rates for groups of 20 or more.
In keeping with Monet’s philosophy, the gardens are regularly changed throughout the months they are open to visitors.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world.
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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