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.

April Light

April 8, 2009

This is how Monet’s garden looked on April 1st, the very first morning it was open this year.

The morning sun enhances the pure lines of the Japanese bridge, whereas the air is full of scent from spring flowers like daffodils, pansies and hyacinths.

The light of this early  hour has pink and blue notes and  a very special vaporous quality.

Everything looks renewed and fresh, ready for a new start.

Monet, Bonnard and many more

March 28, 2009

A beautiful exhibition has just opened at Vernon’s museum. A must see if you come to Giverny!

It is entitled ”From Corot to Bonnard, masterpieces from the museums of Douai and Vernon” and features an impressive list of reknown artists such as Monet, Pissarro, Vuillard, Corot, Courbet, Bonnard and many more.

The visit leads you from the early stage of pre-impressionism to impressionism in its glory, followed by néo-impressionist works.  a feast for the eyes!

The exhibition is to be seen at Vernon’s museum for three months until June 28.

Monet’s Family

March 6, 2009

Monet and Manet were good friends,  as apparent by Edouard Manet’s painting of Claude Monet and his family in their garden at Argenteuil.

The woman in white is Camille, who often posed for Monet and his fellow painters, especially Manet and Renoir.

The relaxed boy leaning against her is Jean, their eldest son. A second one, Michel, was born shortly before Camille died.

Both sons married, but neither of them had children. Monet had no grand-children. However, he lived surrounded by young people because his second wife Alice brought six children in the wedding. And she had many decendents, today about one hundred!

Monet in his studio

January 28, 2009

This is a view of Claude Monet standing in his first studio amidst his favorite canvases. The light of the afternoon is almost palpable.

This room located in his main house at Giverny was turned into his sitting-room after 1890.

When Monet became successful, he built a new house in the corner of his garden, where he moved his studio. He had now a well lit large room to work in and to store his paintings. The former studio became a place where he used to have a liquor after lunch, where he would sit to read a gardening book or a novel by Maupassant. Monet also used to write many letters.

The paintings for sale where displayed in the second studio whereas he kept the ones he cherished too much to sell them in the first studio.

The picture was made in springtime according to the tulips behind Monet. The photo reveals how much the painter loved flowers. There were at least six vases in his studio on this day!

Autumn Stars

October 25, 2008

The fallen leaves of the three liquidambars look like stars picked on the surface of Monet’s pond at Giverny.

They twinkle against the dark blue reflection of the sky.

In 19th Century France it was a common pattern to paint murals of stars in the night on the ceilings of  churches.

Copper Beech

October 15, 2008

A big copper beech shades Claude Monet’s water garden at Giverny.

It is a very old tree, dating back to Monet’s time. It must be over 100 years old, a survivor from the original garden Monet planted.

In October, Autumn has come and the beech is not copper anymore but brown, as you can see from its reflection in the waterlily pond. The rest of the season this senior among the trees in the garden has strange powers.

There is a magic in it: when you stand under its branches and you look up, its leaves are perfectly green. But seen from a distance they become dark red.

Certainly one could find a scientific explanation for this magic, but please! don’t tell me. I prefer not to know.

30 Monets at Giverny next year!

October 9, 2008

I am absolutely excited by the news I’ve just read in the local newspaper of Vernon: next year, the Fine Arts museum of Giverny (temporarily named Impressionist Museum, but its name may change) will start its new life with an incredible exhibition. The organisers plan to obtain 30 Monets! The theme will be, obviously enough, Monet’s gardens.

It seems too fantastic to be true, but I’m not dreaming. Imagine! The visitor will be able to see the paintings on the very place where they were created, to go from the canvases to the garden, from the garden to the canvases. A unique, unforgetable experience. It will be absolutely gorgeous. Visitors will leave Giverny their eyes full of beauty and harmony.

The new museum will open with this exceptional exhibition on May 1st, 2009, one month later than Monet’s home and gardens at Giverny, opening on April 1st, 2009. The paintings by the master of Impressionism will stay at Giverny through August 15th.

An exhibition of Joan Mitchell‘s paintings is scheduled from August 23rd through October 31st, 2009. The American artist Joan Mitchell has a direct connection with Monet: she bought and lived in the house neighbouring his former house at Vétheuil, 20 km from Giverny.

In the future the museum of Giverny will constitute its own permanent collection. It could be open year round. It’s hard to imagine better news, isn’t it?

Historic Border

September 3, 2008

Monet’s Garden at Giverny is lined by a small stream.

The name of this stream is le Ru, which means the stream in french. It is not very informative!

But the Ru is a branch of a bigger river, the Epte, which is meaningfull. The Epte was for several centuries the border between two kingdoms, England on one side (because the English king was duke of Normandy) and France on the other side.

Between 911 and 1204 there were many castles and strongholds built on each side of the river to defend the border, and battles fought.

There is still a tower remaining in nearby market town Vernon. It was the keep of the castle. And facing this castle 10 miles away, the castle of La Roche Guyon and its medieval dungeon can still be visited.

Nowadays the river is a border between two regions, Normandy on one side and the area of Paris Ile de France on the other one. Giverny lies on the norman bank, it is the first village of Normandy when coming from Paris.

Fish Stories

August 30, 2008

Where there is a bubble, there is a fish.

Many fish live in Monet’s lake at Giverny. They help keeping its balance.

There are many rudd, easy to recognize because of their orange fins, and carp.

The carp are not Koi carp, they are  wild ones. They come from the Seine river.

A few years ago there was a flood. It was like paradise for carp, they went wandering in an almost endless lake.

Unfortunately for the carp, the water receded, and they were trapped in puddles. They would have died, but the gardeners of Giverny saved them with big garbage cans.

They released them in the pond. Since this day they have been doing well. Now they are big carp and likely to become very old.

And there are also pike in the pond. Several ones, but one is especially big and especially nasty.

Two years ago, a couple of moor hens had made their nest on the island in the middle of the pond. When they had their chicks, seven sweet little chicks, they brought them on the pond to teach them how to swim. Then this greedy pike ate them all one by one.

The best tailors

July 8, 2008

When he didn’t paint, Monet liked to be well dressed.

Look at him standing in the main alley of his garden at Giverny. Monet did his best to look elegant. I am not sure he always achieved this target, for he had a funny and complicated way of dressing. He liked round shaped jackets, as a result he looked a bit like a big insect.

Anyway, Monet went to the best tailors in Paris and ordered expensive suits, even when he was short of money. He just didn’t pay for the bills… I was told the English aristocrats didn’t either in the 19th century. Obviously, Monet’s tailors were not enthralled and the painter would get into troubles, of course.

Poetic Job

June 29, 2008

In his water garden at Giverny, Claude Monet had a dock adornated by arches of climbing roses.

It is especially beautiful in late June when the roses are in blossom, adding their pink to the greens of the foliages.
At Monet’s time there was a boat anchored at the dock. It was used mainly by the gardener devoted to the water garden.

This gardener had a special job: every morning he had to wash the water lilies. The road nearby made them dusty, Monet who wanted to paint them, wanted them to be clean.

The gardener used to get up very early in the morning, before the master would come, and tour the pond in the boat to push the flowers under the surface with the row to clean them.

Water lily washer, isn’t it a poetic job?

Japanese Influence

June 11, 2008

Claude Monet was influenced by his extensive collection of Japanese woodblocks when he created his water garden.

He liked all the bamboos, wisterias, water lilies or peonies he could see on them and wanted these exotic plants in his garden.

He also loved the curved bridges which are so common on Japanese prints.

But although Monet knew pretty well the lay out of a Japanese garden thanks to his readings and to his neighbour American painter Lilla Cabbott Perry who had lived in Tokyo, he  took poetic license.
He didn’t intend to create a true Japanese garden. His bridges are much less bent than authentic ones, and they are green. In a true Japanese garden, they should be red.


June 9, 2008

Claude Monet liked poppies, red poppies in the fields and pink poppies in his garden at Giverny.

His painting of his wife and son walking in a meadow full of poppies is one of the most famous of musée d’Orsay in Paris.

All the poppies are currently in bloom in his flower garden at Giverny, tiny or enormous, scarlet or pink, orange, yellow, some one color, some two. The pink and purple poppies are spectacular.

Monet preferred one color flowers but he also used two color flowers just as he could take two colors with his brush on his palette and put them in one gesture on the canvas.

Monet’s Entrance

June 8, 2008

Monet’s home in Giverny has three entrances, each one dedicated to a particular use.

This is typical for the time when the house was built, in the 19th century.

One door was devoted to Monet’s own use. It leads directly to his first studio and to the stairs to his bedroom. It enabled Monet to go in and out without disturbing the family life – he liked to get up exceedingly early in the morning – or perhaps without being disturbed by the family life – there were eight children in the family. This entrance could be called the professional one.

There was of course a main entrance for family members and guests.

The third one was a domestic entrance leading directly to the kitchen.