by Ariane ~ January 12, 2015
Claude Monet, ‘L’homme au petit chapeau’ (The Man in the Small Hat) 1855/56, Art Institute of Chicago.
Monet started his career as a caricaturist. The Art Institute of Chicago keeps one of his most ancient drawings, this man in a small hat made when he was 15 years old. Because the title is so vague and the drawing rather respectful, we can imagine that this young person may have been Monet’s school mate. Later on, Monet became more offending by drawing what was not yet called the people of Le Havre, as we say in French: the upper middle class bourgeoisie of his city.
I must say this is not the Monet I like best. But it reflects the impulsive and rebellious personality of the painter. Twenty years later, it was Monet’s turn to be mocked, when he dared show his avant garde paintings at the first impressionist exhibition in Paris.
This is how liberty goes. Monet and his friends opened new fields of liberty. The freedom to paint how I like, what I like. The freedom to exhibit and find buyers.
But Monet wanted more. Later on Monet still fought for the admission of Manet’s ‘Olympia’ in the state collections. He didn’t paint for a year to dedicate to this mission. He wanted public recognition of this new freedom.
In matter of politics, Monet was not the kind of artist that withdraws in one’s studio. He was friend with Zola and supported him during the Dreyfus Affair, because he felt things were not fair and had much to do with anti-semitism.
This is how he lived, secluded in the village of Giverny but reading the newspapers, keeping an eye on the world, speaking with Clemenceau.
Monet would have been Charlie.
by Ariane ~ January 4, 2015
This picture was taken on January 1st at Giverny. Outdoors, under a mistletoe plant growing on a tree. Mistletoe is extremely common in our area and can be seen on a wide range of trees including poplars, apple trees, aspens or oaks.
As long as the leaves don’t hide it, mistletoe is very visible and puzzles many visitors. It is a parasite and it does kill the branches it grows on by being too greedy, but the tree itself generally resists. In the meanwhile, mistletoe offers bed and board to many birds. It is now considered an ecological keystone species.
As a guide, I was recently asked by a client if we also kiss under the mistletoe on New Year’s Eve. Actually, we do sometimes, although I doubt this habit belongs to the French folklore. But because we love kissing in France, any excuse for it is immediately adopted, of course. However to tell the truth, the clock striking midnight is enough to start the kissing party.
I wish you many opportunities for kissing this year and twelve months full of love, friendship and warmth. Have a wonderful year 2015!
by Ariane ~ December 27, 2014
Here is a close-up of the desk that can be seen in Claude Monet’s bedroom at Giverny. It is from the mid 18th Century and features music instruments, not painting material. It was already an antique when Monet purchased it.
During the second half of his life Monet became famous. Recognised as a great painter, he sold his paintings at high prices. This enabled him to live a comfortable life.
The desk was restored last winter and found its original colors again.
by Ariane ~ December 5, 2014
Claude Monet is buried at Giverny. His grave is located behind the church. It’s a 10 minute walk from his house.
It is a big family tomb planted with flowers, what sounds only natural for such a great gardener. Monet rests together with his second wife Alice, his two sons Jean and Michel and their wives. Susan, a daughter of Alice, and Alice’s first husband Ernest Hoschedé also keep Monet company. It is rather ironical that Monet and his rival rest in the same grave.
The reason is that Ernest was the first one to die, and his children -raised by Monet- wanted him to rest in Giverny to be able to go on their father’s grave easily. The next one to pass away was Susan. Logically, she was buried with her father. Alice never recovered from this latter grief. When she succumbed to leucemia, she joined her beloved daughter in her last residence. Next came Jean, Monet’s son, and Claude Monet himself. He died the 5th of December 1926 from lung cancer.
by Ariane ~ November 24, 2014
Fall atmosphere in Monet’s gardens at Giverny.
The picture was taken from the steps of the dock next to the water lily pond.
On the left, the green leaves of pontederias.
The red shrub on the opposite bank is a Japanese maple.
In the distance appears the pink house with green shutters, Monet’s home for 43 years.
On the right, through the branches, the third studio where Monet painted his biggest water lilies panels.
by Ariane ~ November 10, 2014
Do you want to have a look at the Monet Garden while it is closed for the winter?
Here is the Japanese bridge as it was this morning.
Giverny is now closed for five months.
The village will awake again next spring.
The first day for visiting the gardens will be Saturday 28 March, 2015.
by Ariane ~ October 22, 2014
Yesterday I guided very charming hawaian guests at Giverny. It was nice to look at Monet’s gardens through their eye from Hawai. They reminded me that fall doesn’t exist on their island. It is summer all year round. Discovering the special spirit of this season sounded very exciting for them. Autumn has started to work its magic on the foliage. The three sweet gum trees reflect their reds and oranges into the water lily pond. For us, who know what will come next, this dramatic show of the saison, despite of its beauty, has a special flavour of nostalgia and melancholia intertwined.
by Ariane ~ October 8, 2014
Impressionist umbrellas featuring ladies with a parasol that hang upside down from a gutter,
and soap bubbles flying through the air and catching all the colors of light,
this is also Giverny, the village of the French impressionist painter Claude Monet.
by Ariane ~ October 2, 2014
Every last Sunday of September, the main street of Giverny “Rue Claude Monet” turns into a sidewalk sale. Hundreds of booths display a large range of used things, from antiques to books and toys. These so called Fairs to Everything (foires à tout) are extremely popular in the area of Giverny and attract thousands of visitors.
I photographed this paint box at the Giverny fair last week-end. It is a foldable one. I found it especially artful, if I dare say, because of the two little bumpers that prevent the two sides of the palet from sticking to one another when folded.
Below, the zinc box is partitioned to contain tubes of color and brushes, and a bottle of solvent.
Foldable means that the box was easy to carry outdoors for open air painting, the big revolution of the 19th Century. Thanks to the newly invented squeezable tubes of colors, artists were able to leave their studios and paint the landscapes they saw, generously lit by the sun.
I wonder whom this very paint box belonged to, and what paintings were made with it. The mystery contained in ancient objects is part of the fun we have going antiques hunting…
by Ariane ~ September 14, 2014
Early in the morning, the low sunbeams stroke the flowers at Giverny. Some mist still hangs in the air, like the dreams of the night. There is a feeling of awakening.
The little lanes of Monet’s garden look even more inviting. Early in the morning, minutes after opening time, the Clos Normand is still silent. One can hear the plants breathing, almost.
It is a magical moment that must be picked up quickly. Shortly later, the air will be full of voices, and the place full of people.
by Ariane ~ August 15, 2014
A puzzling sign hangs on a fence in Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny. Visitors are begged not to disturb the owl. They scrutinize the cage. Where can this mysterious owl be sleeping?
Their efforts to find the bird are doomed to failure, because there has never been any owl in the poultry yard. It should read “Don’t disturb the Fowl” but a puckish hand erased the F!
The French translation is vague: don’t disturb the animals.
What can be seen are two white and black turkeys and a few chickens. From time to time, the roaster sings a loud Cocorico, regardless of any owls or human beings that could be asleep in the vicinity…
by Ariane ~ June 7, 2014
This is how the water lilies are blooming right now at Giverny. Pink, salmon, yellow, white,
For more pictures of Giverny, you may also enjoy my photo gallery Giverny Photo and, even if you don’t read French, my other blog Giverny News that I’ve been writing for 8 years.
I would like to dedicate this post to Margerie, whom I met this week in the garden while I was photographying for the blogs. Margerie is a painter and gives painting classes in Monet’s gardens after closing time. She came to me, ‘Are you Ariane?’ She wanted to say thank you for the blog.
You know, Giverny is a little heaven. Minutes ago, I was sitting in the garden waiting for a cloud to go away from the sun, and doubting. Is it still meaningful to go on with the blogs? When the sun came back, I got up for more pictures, and I met Margerie and her gratefulness. She came to me like an angel. Life has the answer, when we ask a question. I’m grateful to you, Margerie.
by Ariane ~ May 17, 2014
Claude Monet designed his water garden from scratch, turning a marshland into a beautiful waterscape to paint.
His eye as a painter can be noticed in the much thought of composition of the garden.
Every where perspectives draw the sight, offering a ready made composition to the artist.
by Ariane ~ April 4, 2014
Blanche Hoschedé-Monet was at the same time Monet’s step-daughter, because he married her mother, and his daughter in law, because she married his son. She inhabited Monet’s house at Giverny until she died in 1947, taking loving care of the estate.
Her bedroom has been restored this winter and is now opened to the public. The furniture -bed, commode, bed table- had been left in the house. What was missing was carefully hunted in antique shops. The result is very charming, lively and poetic. On the walls hang several authentic paintings, including a Grainstack, snow effect (circa 1890) by Blanche, who was Monet’s pupil, and a Mother and Child (circa 1906) by Manzana-Pissarro.
by Ariane ~ February 14, 2014
Mary Cassatt – Mother Holding a Child (around 1890)
Oil on canvas, 81 × 65,5 cm, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao
© Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao
The French museum dedicated to the different branches of impressionism, Musee des Impressionnismes Giverny, is housed in a building that was once the Museum of American Art Giverny.
This year, american impressionist paintings will be back in the galleries of the MDIG thanks to a new exhibit entitled “American Impressionism: A New Vision”.
From 28 March till 29 June 2014, 80 works by Cassatt, Robinson, Chase, Whistler, Sargent, Hassam or Tarbell will show how American painters adopted and adapted the new impressionist style by the end of the 19th century.
In a single word: it’s beautiful. I’m sure you will enjoy it.