Saturday, October 20, 2012


We spent this morning touring Monet's house and garden in Giverny. Although it was wet and overcast I think my smile said it all. I have always loved the work of the Impressionist artists, Claude Monet and Pierre August Renoir in particular. To have the opportunity to visit the home of Monet was a dream come true. The artist lived here with his family for approximately 30 tears, with his second wife Alice and their 8 children. His two sons by Camille, and Alice's six children from her first marriage. He lived there until his death in 1926 The house is quite large, pink with green shutters and is set amongst a beautiful garden. The house is open to the public with Monet's private room, the kitchen, dining room, two bedrooms upstairs and a couple of smaller spaces open to explore. these rooms make up perhaps half of the house, but give a good feel for what it was like in Monet's time. Photographs were not allowed in the house, so it was a perfect excuse to purchase a guide book. I love the blue and white tiles in the kitchen, and could quite easily imagine the meals made here to feed the family. The dining room too was lovely, a pale buttermilk yellow. The retail outlet was in the space where Monet had developed his studio once he began the Waterlily series. A large room with good natural light. For effect, reproductions of his works are hung as they have been documented to have been when Monet was alive. I imagine Monet was not an easy man to live with. being a French male of his generation and judging by the photographic record of him he was a bit of a toughie. he did however have some sad elements to his life, so perhaps this added to his sombre look. There is a good photographic record of the family as the French photographer Nadar was a friend of the family. The gardens are another thing altogether. While the gardens around the house are a mass of green, Autumn is probably not the best season for viewing, but with 600 000 people visiting Giverny annually I was not sorry to miss the peak season. There was evidence of the last dahlias of the season, rose bushes, irises and nasturtiums. The highlight though, and what people travel so far to see is the waterlily garden. Monet planted this himself, getting planning permission to divert the adjacent river, and also for permission to plant some of the exotic species in the garden such as the bamboos. For a non gardener I was very taken with the serenity and beauty of the garden. There were a number of vistas across the garden, of the boat, the weeping willows, the Japanese bridge and of course the waterlilies that I know so well from his art. seeing them, and being in the space was however an amazing experience. My heart is smiling after this morning.

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