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Monet's Garden in Giverny

When Claude Monet first moved to Giverny in 1883, it was in the wake of a personal tragedy. The artistís friend and mentor, Edouard Manet, had just died that very day. Moreover, Monetís wife, Camille, had died five years earlier. But although these and other tragic events occurred at Giverny and shortly before, Monet continued to find inspiration for his paintings from the surrounding countryside of Giverny and his own gardens which he was constantly creating and expanding upon.

When Monet came upon the property where he would eventually live, he was overtaken by the charm of the pink stucco farmhouse and the nearby river. The house was situated on an abandoned cider farm and the apples trees were in blossom. Fortunately, the owner of the property agreed to rent the farmhouse to Monet. It would be another seven years before he was able to purchase it himself.

Soon after Monet set up house in Giverny with his two young sons and his companion, Alice, and her six children, he began to create two beautiful flower gardens. As one of the key artists of the Impressionist movement, Monet enjoyed the outdoors and especially flowers. At first, he planted a modest garden with simple flowers but as his skill improved and his satisfaction increased, his gardens increased in complexity and variety. In 1890, Monet began to create his famous Japanese water garden. He diverted a nearby stream to create a pool and planted water lilies in it. He surrounded the pool with trees and plants and constructed a bridge across the pond.

Although Monet had created his gardens for his own pleasure, he found them to be a huge source of inspiration for his paintings. Monet claimed that understanding his gardens took time but once he understood them, he wanted to paint nothing else! As his income became more reliable, he was able to employ full-time gardeners to maintain the gardens and they continued to expand and improve.

Monet continued work on his gardens for the next forty years of his life. During this time, Monet endured the death of his son, Jean, and his companion, Alice, whom he had married in 1892. In addition, Monet was diagnosed with cataracts with which he suffered for many years. The cataracts clouded his vision and cast a yellowish brown tint on everything he saw, robbing him of the beautiful colors of his garden. Fearful that he could lose his vision altogether if he submitted to surgery, he delayed it for many years. In 1923, fifteen years after he was first diagnosed with cataracts, Monet underwent three operations to correct his vision. His sight was restored, but not to his liking. He complained bitterly about his inadequate perception of color and as usual, his unhappiness often whipped him into a an emotional rage. Monet's ability to paint what he "felt," was central to his existence.

When war broke out in 1914, Monet refused to leave Giverny, claiming that if he were to die, he wanted to be surrounded by his lifeís work. In 1915, Monet started construction on a new garden studio in which he would create a series of large-scale paintings of his water lily garden to be exhibited in several new galleries in the Paris Orangerie. The series of twenty-two paintings took him twelve years to complete and were exhibited five months after Monetís death in 1826 the age of eighty-six.

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Diana Blake is a professional artist and art history enthusiast. Her fascination with art history began when she encountered European art firsthand during several trips abroad as a young adult. As she began to compose a portfolio for her own art career, she called upon what she had seen in Europe and extended her knowledge to other styles of art through profuse reading and exhaustive research. As a result, Diana has written more than one hundred articles in which she delves into a variety of art history topics and she has compiled a list of links that she believes to be invaluable for art history enthusiasts. In addition, she also reviews books and movies on the topic of art history and has assembled an extensive list of online stores that sell books, movies and gift items related to art history.
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