Claude Monet and Impressionism
Claude Monet was the foremost practitioner of impressionism in the nineteenth century and was the de facto leader of the movement. A style characterised by dreamlike imagery and pure colours, it marked a historic shift from the detail-centric paintings that had dominated Europe for centuries.
The impressionist painted with a loosened grip and wavy brushstrokes. It was a form which perfectly encapsulated the artist’s fondness of the natural light and its shifting dynamics. This was a particularly prevalent motif among painters who would exclusively paint outdoors to capture the elements. Impressionist work is the essence of an imperfect world marred by the throes of time. These paintings were not symmetrical or idealised, but simply a passing flicker of what the artist saw.
Monet is, without a doubt, the most revered and celebrated impressionist from the era. His paintings masterfully capture the subtleties of light and perfectly encapsulate the fleeting qualities of everyday scenery. His unconventional and striking creations started a movement which has been adored for centuries and will be for many more to come.
From 1883 until his death in 1926, Monet lived Giverny, an idyllic village just outside Paris. It is here where Monet created some of his most exquisite works which focused on a singular image, such as Waterlilies, Haystacks, and Rouen Cathedral.
Immerse yourself into the world of Monet. You can take a tour of his pink-plastered house and visit his dining room, reading room and personal studio, which makes for resoundingly intimate experiences. After this you can traverse the poetic and vibrant scenery that inspired his vivid paintings. Monet was passionate and full life, and his house and gardens are an embodiment of his character. Brimming with incredible colours and horticultural perfection, the house and gardens are a place of pure poetry.
The Clos Normand and The Water Lily Gardens
In 1893, Monet purchased land near his property which featured a pond, always intending to turn the spectacle into a work of art. Monet’s gardens are renowned for their dreamlike and hazy qualities, owing to the translucent and soft lighting that is native to Giverny. Complete with layered flower beds, quaint stone paths and tranquil waters, these sights and sounds were Monet’s private muse. What makes the gardens even more interesting is the fact they are his own creation, and this relationship between painter and horticulture make visiting the gardens a remarkable experience.
There are two gardens, the Clos Normand and the Japanese Water Gardens. The former is of a more traditional European design, notably featuring roses, tulips, irises, and peonies. Distinct gravel stone partitions separate the various flowerbeds that blanket the garden, giving each its own unique atmosphere. The individual plants, however, are quite loose, giving the gardens a natural flavour which is in keeping with Monet’s artwork.
A short distance away are the Water Lily Gardens. In 1893 Monet purchased this adjacent patch of land near his property and intended it to be turned into a work of art. The painter’s fascination with oriental horticulture is well documented, and this garden has weeping willows, water lilies and bamboos in a varied and lush tapestry of vibrant colours. The famous Japanese bridge forms the centrepiece; from here, the experience of being in the garden is fully realised as every viewing angle depicts an entirely different motif and colour scheme.
Monet was just as attentive a horticulturalist as he was a painter. It is so rare that we are given the opportunity to fully realise the inspiration behind an artist’s work. A stroll through Monet’s garden will be an experience to be cherished.
Elle Scotter is the Marketing Executive of Back-Roads Touring, a company with 25 years' experience creating tailor-made small group escorted tours that go off the beaten track to delve a little deeper into the true heart and soul of a destination. Travelling in comfortable mini-coaches with a tour size of generally no more than 18 people, their holidays provide a flexible, friendly and relaxed way to tour. On itineraries across Europe and the UK, you'll experience the road less travelled with Back-Roads Touring.
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