June 12, 2011

Obsession

1914 - 1917
This spring Jim and I went to see Monet's paintings at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.  From February through the middle of June the atheneum exhibited "Monet's Water Lilies: An Artist's Obsession" -- a showing of several of the paintings he did of water lilies at Giverny.

For 30 years, until his death, he painted and painted and painted the ever changing scene in his Japanese styled water garden.  250 paintings of water lilies in all, and like the scenery itself, they show a changing artistry and endless experimentation with color and light.  The Wadsworth had eight of them, from his earliest tries to the increasingly surreal scenes at the end of his life.

Painting water lilies: it was an obsession that he freely admitted to.

But there was another obsession on display in these pictures.  An obsession that all of the readers of this blog know well.  Claude Monet was as proud of his gardening skills as he was of his paintings.

1895, before the wisteria and willows grew
He created the garden at Giverny without thinking, at first, to capture it in paint.  In a letter he said that he built the garden and pond for pleasure, and only later tried to play with techniques to render some of the light he saw on the water lilies.  He wrote "a landscape does not sink into you all at once".

We have all known that gradual seduction in our own gardens.

Monet was a real gardener.  He had to get permission to divert a nearby stream to make his pond, no small task.  He experimented with exotic plants, learning how to cultivate water lilies.  He copied Japanese aesthetics and built the famous arched footbridge.  He planted wisteria on it and depicted it over the years as it crept over the railings.  He planted weeping willows and irises.  He bought more land next to his garden that became a lush private park.

1925, darker, intense, covered in vines and trees
We have all known that need for more --- a pond, more land, more plants.

And, like any obsessed garden blogger with a digital camera, he recorded what he was growing, how the garden changed, and what he saw that so enchanted him.

Monet, in fact, would have made a great garden blogger.

Oh, and he was a talented painter too.









11 comments:

  1. Dear Laurrie, I am always playing catch-up in my blogging! I missed your last few posts, but I have so enjoyed reading them this morning! I have always been inspired by Monet's paintings, and I can appreciate him painting the same scene over and over, as the light played across his garden. I do the same thing in my garden with my camera, and I have to watch out, or I find myself posting the same scene repeatedly on my blog!

    I would love Jane's garden, too! Yes, it's the surprises that make a garden special, whether it be a temporary shaft of light or a friendly robin or an unexpected but delightful plant combination. There is always a surprise waiting for me. I am positive it was the same for Monet.

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  2. Can you imagine what it would have been like had Monet owned a digital camera? Think of all the shots we would be able to see! It's one of the saddest components of death that the soul and the creative mind behind the life is extinguished.

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  3. I always loved Monet. Gorgeous.

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  4. Lucky you to get to see some of his paintings. I think all gardeners are artists. Because what is an artist after all?? Someone who creates beauty. Someone who expresses themselves with plants, color, texture,light.

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  5. Deborah, thanks for stopping by to catch up. I also find that I want to keep posting the same scenes over and over as they change. It's part of the obsession!

    Wendy, oh my, a digital camera in Monet's hands! The possibilities.
    : )

    Meemsnyc, thanks. I like most of the impressionists, Monet in particular.

    Lisa, well said about an artist in the garden!

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  6. Laurrie:
    This is better than any obsession. It brilliantly displays many things about you, including (in no special order):
    -your passion for creating in your garden
    -your wonderful gift with words
    -your sense of humor
    -your tastes in reading (I loved your bookshelf; I'm intimidated by the number and breadth of your choices).
    I like your blog very much and I encourage you to keep it up. Maybe one of these days we can catch up with you and Jim. When we do, I'd like to offer a new tree for your garden - a Japanese maple seedling from our garden, if it will fit into yours (I don't know the botanical name; you and Marianne probably do).
    Thanks for sharing your passion.
    Jim Cassidy

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  7. Jim, so good to hear from you! And thanks for the compliments. I would love a seedling from your garden, and can surely find a great spot for a Japanese maple. I'm glad you visited virtually --- now we need to do so in real life : )

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  8. Ha, yes indeed, Monet would have been an excellent garden blogger!

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  9. Sweetbay, can you imagine! Monet with a point and click.

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  10. You know that I love Monet, his painting and love of garden. You really explained his intent and passion well. I envy you seeing some of his work. I too have seen some, but never in France which I would absolutely love. Not to mention seeing the gardens. Some bloggers have and some wrote that they did not especially admire his work. He was obsessed and what amazes me is the wealth of work he produced.

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  11. Donna, it really was interesting to see Monet's work, especially since they showed the progression from his earliest lily pictures to the ones he did years later.

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