Icons of Art: Monet in Giverny
Imagine yourself a part of a Monet masterpiece as you step into his lovely gardens at Giverny.
The iconic water lilies, Japanese Bridge, weeping willows, purple wisteria, and green bamboo… all remain just as they were when Claude Monet captured them with his quick, tempered, impressionist brushstrokes – and just as inspiring. Even for those who’ve never strolled through them, the gardens instantly evoke a familiar feel and are surely a part of any art lover’s bucket list.
Claude Monet, born in Paris in 1840, is sometimes referred to as the Father of Impressionism. The very term ‘impressionism’ was even derived from the title of his painting Impressions, Soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise). Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas – these were the artists who ushered in a new avant-garde way of expression, changing the face of art forever, although at first they were widely mocked and criticized. Even the moniker ‘impressionism’ was originally meant as an insult by an art critic. Up until then, paintings were more traditional – with a seamless blend of colors and shadows. Monet used short, quick brushstrokes to illustrate movement and the play of light. He painted outdoors when artists at that time only used their studios. He was both a revolutionary and a visionary.
In 1883, Monet first came upon the pastoral town of Giverny, population 301. To an artist born and raised in the hustle and bustle of Paris, it was a quiet utopian paradise where he could move his family and draw inspiration for his paintings for much of the rest of his life. Once moving in, he quickly set about designing the home and garden. Each room in his house has a distinct color scheme, chosen by the master himself. He also kept hundreds of original Japanese woodblock prints, along with a print of “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” to inspire him.
And then, of course, is one of his signature masterpieces: his iconic garden, forever memorialized in his many paintings. Nowadays, a Monet water lilies painting could sell for upwards of eighty million dollars, but since the 1980s, the garden has been open to the public for all to enjoy. It was meticulously designed and tended to by Monet with the specific intention to paint the landscapes he created. Vibrant flowers, unique plants, and stunning landscaping are a thrill for horticulturists, landscapers, and architects alike along with art lovers and historians. Monet spent over forty years of his life painting in and around the garden. Indeed, the landscape is so bursting with color and flowers in full bloom – that it may almost be difficult to distinguish the gardens from the artwork.
And that is a thing of beauty.
With AmaWaterways' Impressions of the Seine & Paris and Paris & Normandy itineraries, visit where it feels as if you are walking through these icons of French art.
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