Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Monet's Giverny Arrives Just in Time for Gardening Season

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Monet's Giverny Arrives Just in Time for Gardening Season

Article excerpt

It's possible for artists to fall in love as they grow older - and not always with a person. Consider the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet, who became enamored of his gardens at Giverny.

For Monet, the passion for the flowers, spreading trees, Japanese footbridge, and lily ponds of his country estate of Giverny paralleled anything he felt for the fairer sex in his younger days. He moved to to the small Normandy farming village of Giverny, 40 miles northwest of Paris, in 1883. There, he lovingly made his gardens what he called his "living palette" for the next 43 years. At one time, after becoming successful, he employed seven gardeners.

Now Americans can see these little-shown images of this vibrant flora and fauna in the exhibit "Monet: Paintings of Giverny From the Musee Marmottan." They're at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore through May 31. Then they travel to the San Diego Museum of Art (June 27-Aug. 30) and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon (Sept. 20-Jan. 1, 1999.) Monet was skilled both as a gardener and painter, as is revealed in this small but diverse group of paintings. After purchasing the three-acre Giverny property in 1890, he began transforming what was a simple kitchen garden into a brilliantly hued one of flowers. In 1893, he bought an additional two acres, where he diverted a stream to create his first waterlily garden. It would be the subject of Monet's last great cycle of waterlily paintings, including the curved, wall-sized ones he did for Paris's Musee de l'Orangerie. The two gardens, seen in the exhibit as the "Japanese Footbridge" series, the "Water Lilies," and "The House From the Rose Garden" paintings, perfectly complement one another. The flower garden is the more traditional and Western, inspired by formal designs for 18th- century country house gardens. By contrast, the one of the lilies expressed Monet's love of Japanese art, with its asymmetric layout, reflective waters, and exotic plantings. …

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