Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monet's gardens

Monet's house

Monet's garden in Giverny, France is a sweet respite from the hustle and bustle of Paris. About an hour's drive from Paris, this historical landscape features the artist's pink house and his beloved gardens from which he drew his inspirations for the Impressionist art movement.

After Monet's death, his family maintained the property but the house and gardens were eventually neglected and fell into disarray. When his son, Michel Monet passed away, the property was left to the Académie des Beaux Arts. Restoration of the property took place gradually. Additional fundings secured from American philanthropists helped to complete the restoration of the house, its contents and the gardens. The garden was first opened to the public in 1980. Today, it reigns as one of the most popular tourist sites in France. An average of 500,000 visitors venture to these gardens annually.

A visit to the Monet's garden was one of my top agenda items while in France. The entrance ticket features pictures of different areas of the garden. Everywhere you look, you see a harmony of splendid colors ranging from the pink house with its green shutters to the multitudes of flowers blooming in the gardens. Depending on the seasons, different varieties of flowers were cultivated providing different shades of hues.

Inside the pink house, one could view Monet's arts, his Japanese prints, his sunflower color kitchen and other personal artifacts. No photographs are permitted inside the house.

One could then visit the famous lily pond and the iconic Japanese green wooden bridge that spans over the water lily pond.  Walking through the gardens, one could reflect on the tranquility of the surroundings, take in the fragrance of the blooming flowers and be transfixed by the sheer beauty of Monet's garden design. There are the water lilies, weeping willows, tall cluster of bamboo trees and lavender wisteria forming a canopy over the bridge. If one stay long enough, one could witness the ever changing glimmers of sunlight  on the water and water lilies that had fired the imagination of the master artist.

The gardens with a pathway leading to  Monet's house.

Monet's water lilies

Beautiful lavender wisteria growing over Monet's Japanese bridge.

The property also has an on site gift shop. Popular items for sale include magnets, calendars, tote bags and replicas of his paintings.

Although one could view Monet's paintings in many museums around the world, knowing the source and inspiration for these beautiful water lilies paintings help us appreciate the journey the master artist has traveled to see, feel and transpose those visions onto the canvas. In Paris, one could view Monet's paintings in museums such as Musee Marmatton, Musee d'Orsay and the Musee L'Orangerie.

Monet's water lilies in Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Of these, my favorite is the Musee de l'Orangerie, a comparatively small intimate museum. It houses two elliptical shaped rooms with full sized wall panels of Monet's water lilies. Overhead, there is a skylight casting natural light on these paintings. The paintings are simply magnificent !

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