Happy New Year!

December 27, 2009

It is time for Season Greetings, so I wish you all the best for 2010.

Let the old year become a dry leaf blown away by the wind, and new sprouts grow, like green buds full of life and energy!

It is time for garden dreams, when flowers still sleep in the cold ground.

And time for dreams of travelling as soon as the sun is higher and warmer again.

Will you come to Giverny this year?

Needle Works

December 15, 2009

When the weather gets cold and evenings dark, it is nice to grasp one’s needles again. Do you like knitting? Alice, Monet’s second wife, loved crocheting. The word seems to come from the french, a crochet being a little hook.

Needle works were considered an elegant pastime in the 19th century. In the middle class, the so called bourgeoisie, and in the aristocracy, ladies and young demoiselles were not supposed to work. But they were supposed to develop their talents at sorted hobbies, watercolor painting, singing, playing the piano… A good command of needle works was also extremely important to be considered an accomplished woman. This meant you would be able to cope with a household. And idleness is so dangerous, isn’t it ?

Alice Monet had four daughters. There was no season for embroidering or sewing for them. When it was cold they sat in the salon, next to the fire place. When it was warm, they preferred the open air and spent the afternoon on the benches of this place under the big tree, on the corner of the Clos Normand.

This place is still called the Ladies Circle.

Monet’s Garden in October

November 23, 2009

How could one get tired of this beauty?

The picture was taken this year on October 12.

There were still many flowers in full bloom, the gorgeous dahlias, contrasting with delicate asters and cosmos, and the bright yellow helianthus.

They provide a fabulous setting to the pale pink house.

September and the beginning of October are just breathtaking in Monet’s heaven at Giverny.

Monet’s Kitchen

November 10, 2009

Monet’s kitchen at Giverny has a delicious flavor of old fashioned kitchens, where the scent of jam seems to be still floating in the air.

Monet, as a gourmet, was very interested by all what was going on in the kitchen, but in his times it was a place for women only. He had a very good cook and collected recipes for her to test.

The kitchen Monet designed for his house is very well organised. Spacey, it is covered with blue Norman tiles. It could look cold, but all this blue is enhanced by the shiny coppers. An amazing collection of saucepans, pots and kettles of every shapes, to prepare delicious meals for a large bourgeois family and distinguished guests.

October at Giverny

November 10, 2009

The beauty of early October at Giverny, when Monet’s flower garden radiates with bright colors, is breathtaking.

It is certainly one of the best times to see the painter’s garden, more impressionist than ever.

Huge bouquets of sunflowers, asters, dahlias, cosmos mix their colors to create an overwhelming effect.

The metallic arches and tripods vanish in this sea of flowers, as well as visitors.

Natural Paintings

October 30, 2009

Fall is a talented artist who paints beautiful works on Monet’s water lily pond at Giverny.

Late October is the best time to admire the warm reflection of foliage on the surface so often painted by the master of Impressionism.

Liquidambars, weeping willows, poplars, taxodium, beech, chestnut trees all offer their brightest tones duplicated by the mirror of the lake.

Then the breeze comes like a magic stick to blur it all and turn the perfect images into nature’s brushstrokes.

And the little green bridge is there to frame it all.

Autumn at Giverny

October 26, 2009

Monet’s gardens at Giverny will soon close: next Sunday in the evening, on November 1st. Just before their Winter sleep, they offer a gorgeous show on the side of the water garden.

The tall trees that surround the pond change their green or dark red colors for much brighter ones.

The taxodium becomes as red as a squirrel. It will last a few days and then it will loose its needles, until new ones grow next Spring, giving it a fresh green look.

Through the branches of the taxodium, like a spying eye, one can spot a window of Monet’s house in the distance.

Late Season

October 6, 2009

The beginning of Autumn is a gorgeous season in Giverny.

Walking in the paths of Monet’s garden provides a unique experience of being merged in the flowers. Giant dahlias, cosmos, sunflowers have reached an incredible height.

All mixed together in enormous bunches of colors, they dance in the slightest breeze.

Overwhelming beauty.

The few visitors exclaim, astonished: It was worth coming! So many flowers! I wouldn’t have believed!

The air smells of sages, lavenders, and the acid fragrance of dying poplar leaves.

The waterlilies floating on the pond seem to be dreaming all day long. They hardly open for a few hours in the afternoon before closing again and returning to their sleep.

Monet’s Bedroom

September 19, 2009

A detail strikes the visitors who enter Monet’s bedroom at Giverny: the bed is ridiculously small.

Claude Monet wasn’t very tall, and he didn’t share his bed with his wife. They had separate bedrooms. Not because they didn’t care, but rich families copied the aristocracy and had separate ‘appartements’, though they were connected.

Monet could get up very early without waking his wife. He loved to paint before sunrise, when the river is still covered with mist.

The bed and the armoire, which were not very expensive furniture, were painted according to Monet’s taste.

Monet had gorgeous views over his garden from his bedroom’s three windows. The painter designed his bedroom, he had it built just over the first studio. He wanted a lot of light in it.

The bedroom was the place where he hung his collection of impressionist paintings by his friends, an incredible collection of 35 canvases including 12 paintings by Cézanne, many Renoirs, Sysleys, Morisots, Manets and so on.

The desk is a beautiful antique from the 18th century.

Joan Mitchell at Giverny

September 2, 2009

It sounds like the perfect transition for the new Museum of Impressionisms Giverny: after the first exhibition dedicated to Monet’s Nymphéas, that ended with resolutely modern late works, the next artist occupying the galleries of the museum is Joan Mitchell.

Although Mitchell rarely admitted Monet’s influence on her canvases, undoubtedly she put her feet in his footsteps. She lived in the same riverscape, the Seine Valley at Vétheuil. In this village where Monet had spent a couple of very hard years, painting relentlessly, she bought the house neighboring his, almost a century later, and just like Monet she admired the beautiful natural setting.

But instead of trying to recreate nature on the canvas, Mitchell, an abstract expressionist, preferred to concentrate on her own feelings. She shared with Monet an amazing energy, a fantastic talent as a colorist, a special love for oversized canvases, and more.

The exhibition is on display only a few miles away from Vetheuil until  31 October, 2009 at the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny.

Joan Mitchell, Great Valley number IX, oil on canvas

Success for the Monet Exhibition at Giverny

August 13, 2009

Over 100 000 visitors will have seen the beautiful exhibition of 28 paintings by Monet at the Musee des Impressionnismes Giverny.

The exhibition started on May 1st ends on Saturday 15 August.

It will have met all the expectations by attracting crowds of Monet lovers in the village where the canvases, mostly featuring Nympheas, had been created.

The next exhibition opening on 23 August is dedicated to the oversized and colorful paintings of American artist Joan Mitchell.  Joan Mitchell, a master of expressionism, was inspired by Monet’s Nympheas. She lived for years in Vetheuil, her studio neighboring Monet’s house on the river side.

For the museum, it will be sort of a flash-back to its origins. Before becoming the Musee des Impressionnismes Giverny, it used to be the Musee d’Art Americain Giverny.

Monet’s Dining Room

August 2, 2009

I have just been given the right to take pictures inside of Monet’s House. I am thrilled being able to comment on this very special home I love!

Taking photographs in the museum is forbidden for several reasons, especially because of the very fragile japanese woodblocks that hang on the walls. Monet didn’t want his own work to decorate his home: it was work! He preferred something more exotic and fun. He would hang them everywhere except in his studio, in the kitchen and in his bedroom.

I don’t know what strikes visitors most when they enter the most beautiful room of the house, the famous dining room. The Japanese prints cover the walls, almost masking them, their mainly blue color matching the yellow furniture, walls and moldings.

It is strangely modern, especially when compared with the very heavy and dark fashion in matter of decoration in Victorian times. Bright, and stunning. Everybody says waow! when stepping inside of this yellow dining room, and most people like it. But for some visitors, it is too yellow.

Lavender Dream

July 19, 2009

A purple bush rose frames the big window of Monet’s first studio at Giverny.

Purple roses are not very common, nor look very natural, but they provide a strong impact. This one has a sweet name: lavender dream. It is lovely in springtime when it flowers in numerous small simple roses.

It is too late now for roses, but it is the right time to see -and smell- lavender in bloom at Giverny, as a slight reminiscence to Provence. It perfumes the air, together with phlox and lilies.

Vantage Point

July 10, 2009

The dock offers good views on the small bridge over Monet’s pond at Giverny.

There are six bridges in Monet’s water garden, the biggest being the one Monet painted so often. But the smaller bridge at the other end of the pond is very charming also.

This side of the garden is bathed by the sun in late afternoon. The warm light generates beautiful reflections on the surface.

One would like to do like Monet, just sit down and gaze at the water for hours, scrutinising the changing colors of nature.

Matter of Size

June 26, 2009

I had to wait until there were a few people at the entrance to Monet’s house in Giverny before I could take this picture. Generally I take great care there isn’t anybody on the snapshot. It was fun doing exactly the contrary, for a change.

I wanted to please Virginia, who paints lovely pictures of Giverny. While she was in Monet’s gardens, Virginia photographied his house, but once back at home she realised she missed the scale for characters.

Actually, the picture looks more lively with people on it. Why must we always wait and take empty pictures? To give the illusion we were alone on the site? Or just to avoid photographying people we have not been introduced to?

Monet’s house is not that easy to paint, because of the perspective. To see it you must stand on its side, for two yews hide the house when you face it. It was Monet’s idea to mask the building, as it is extremely long: about 40 meters, 130 feet! Strangely enough the house is very narrow, only 5 meters.