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White Water Lilies

Painting, 1899, 89×93 cm
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Description of the artwork «White Water Lilies»

This is one of the first paintings of the Japanese bridge in Claude Monet's Garden in Giverny. Later he painted it more than 20 times: at first, the fabulously fascinating bridge was flooded with light but 10-15 years later Monet lost his ability to distinguish colors and the Japanese bridge in his paintings sometimes was immersed in a bluish haze, sometimes lighted up with the crimson flame, or even drowned in intense shades. But this picture was created in the very beginning, when the bridge, inspired by the Japanese engravings, had just been installed.
At the end of the XIX century, almost no one knew of the village of Giverny - except for the residents themselves and their neighbors from the nearest villages. It was inhabited by 300 people, had one school and several taverns. Today it is a legendary city that hosts thousands of tourists and admirers of the artist, who turned the small village into an artistic and horticultural Mecca.

Claude Monet spent a lot of time looking for a pink stucco house with grey shutters: he would go for a few days on a trip along the Seine, come into the restaurants and ask the locals whether there were any houses for rent nearby. And that house had to be really big, since Monet had quite a large family: Alice Hoschede, the artist's future wife and 8 children from their first marriages.

A few years later, the artist bought the house, installed a huge window in the studio and stayed there for the rest of his life. The neighbors laughed at Monet: "Do you plant flowers? What can you get from them?" But Monet had never been so obsessed and happy: he cut down the cypress alleys, planted roses in the yard, bought books and magazines for gardeners, corresponded with nurseries, and his friends even brought him rare seedlings from all over the world. When this madman decided to buy the adjacent plot, a continuous swamp, the inhabitants of Giverny weren't even surprised.

In the next 30 years, Claude Monet had things to do. He drained the swamp and put a pond in its place; over time, a fabulous garden grew there: weeping willows, wisteria, rhododendrons, bamboo, roses, and, of course, the famous water lilies from Japan. Before leaving on a long journey in search for motives, Monet couldn't sleep and work when he suddenly learned from his wife's letters that unexpected frosts had struck Giverny. When the garden suffered from dust, cold or clumsy visitors, the artist suffered with it.

Walking on Monet's bridge would be sweet, scary and incredibly interesting at the same time. Look, the entrance to the bridge can be seen, but it's is somewhere outside the picture. Philosopher Nikolai Alexandrov walked on Monet's bridge with a ruler and a compass to have discovered that the bridge was a direct path to a new, modern art: "This is the major motive of modernist style," said Alexandrov, "in the absence of people the world lives its own mysterious life, but pretends to be neutral when they are watching."
The only thing left from the artificial human world here is the bridge. But if you look closer, you'll see that it's also just a clean, primed canvas, just a gap in the living world.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1899

Size: 89×93 cm

Artwork in selections: 134 selections

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