Impressionism

Claude Monet: Using the Home and Garden as Inspiration

Nina Relf 9 June 2020 min Read

Claude Monet used his beautiful home and garden in Giverny, France as the source for many of his paintings. We can all learn from the way that he recreated nature to produce some of the most beautiful paintings in the history of art.

Monet's painting 'The Artists Garden at Giverny'
Claude Monet, The Artists Garden at Giverny, 1902, Belvedere Museum, Vienna, Austria.

Monet's garden
Monet’s house in Giverny. France. Photograph by the author.

A few summers ago, I visited Claude Monet’s House and Garden in Giverny, France. More than any other artist I know of, Monet used the surroundings of his home as inspiration for his artworks. During lockdown, we can particularly relate to how he used the nature that was accessible to him. He then transformed this into paintings that would completely change the way we look at color and landscapes.

Monet’s Home in Giverny

Claude Monet grew up in Le Havre in Normandy, France. Here, he gained a reputation as a landscape painter. At the start of his career, in 1862, he studied painting in Paris. He decided to focus on the method of plein-air, a process of painting outside in the open air. Following this, he briefly lived in London and then Paris again. Finally, he settled 50 miles from Paris in the countryside of Giverny. Importantly, the quiet surroundings offered the artist a chance to explore nature in its truest forms. Monet was a pioneer in the French Impressionism movement. To learn more about Impressionism and those involved, read this.

Monet's house in Giverny
Monet’s House in Giverny, France. Photograph by the author.

Furthermore, Monet lived here for 43 years from 1883 until his death in 1926. He enlarged the house to suit his tastes. He wished to create a space in which he could simultaneously live and paint. His studio was in a barn attached to the house with its own bedroom and a bathroom. He was constantly inspired to create. In fact, the house was decorated with paintings by other Impressionists for inspiration, such as Manet, Cézanne, Sisley and more.

Monet's studio
Monet’s home in Giverny, France. Photograph by the author.

In addition, the photo above shows Monet’s first studio. This later became a smoking room where he hosted visiting art dealers, collectors and critics. Although no original works by the artist are there today, copies of his paintings throughout the house help us to understand how it would have looked for Monet.

Monet's window
A window looking out to Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. Photograph by the author.

Monet’s Creation of the House

The view outside of Monet's house
Monet’s house in Giverny, France. Photograph by the author.

Subsequently, each room in Monet’s house is beautifully decorated. The house itself was an artistic project to him. Every room has the individuality, color and uniqueness of a painting. Objects in the kitchen have been used to help replicate the original house when it was lived in.

Kitchen
Monet’s kitchen. Photograph by the author.

Certainly, the interior design of each room was a method of creation for Monet. Every detail, such as the wallpaper, paintings on the wall, furniture, even the views from each window, is carefully thought-out. The house became a work of art that we can interact with today.

House details
Monet’s home detail. Photograph by the author.

The Birthplace of the Water Lily Series

Water lilies
Water Lilies in Monet’s garden. Photograph by the author.

Crucially, Monet’s method of plein-air painting meant that he spent most of his time painting in his garden. He favoured the luscious and green outdoor space. This was to become the setting for some of his most famous paintings, the Water Lily series. This encompasses a huge 250 oil paintings that are now spread across galleries around the world.

Water lilies painting Monet
Claude Monet, The Water Lilies: Green Reflections, 1915-26, Musee Orangerie, Paris, France.

Therefore, it is no surprise that visitors to Monet’s House immediately flock to the bridge to see the Water Lilies. 10 years after moving into the house, the artist decided to create an Asian-influenced water garden. To achieve this, he diverted water from a local river and then arranged flowers, bushes and trees to create the exact look he desired. In this way, the garden itself became a work of art. We are able to see exactly what inspired the artist. From the same point of the view as he once had, this is a rare and extraordinary experience.

The Iconic Bridge

The bridge in Monet's garden
The bridge in Monet’s garden. Photograph by the author.

The Bridge painting
Claude Monet, The Water-Lily Pond, 1899, The National Gallery, London, UK.

Similarly, a reoccurring motif in his paintings is the bridge that crosses the pond. We can wonder if Monet had any idea of how emblematic the image of this bridge would become. He chose this Japanese-style wooden bridge in 1895 and visitors to his house can still walk across it today. The most famous paintings including the bridge are in London at The National Gallery and in Washington in The National Gallery of Art.

Monet (right) on the bridge at Giverny. Wikipedia Commons.

Monet created such beauty even towards the end of his life, despite suffering from cataracts in both eyes aged 72. He had suffered from visual problems since 1905, giving him a unique perception of color. Art historians often refer to the artist’s ‘blue period’ and ‘red period’. In general, we remember Monet today for his inventiveness with color.

Using the House and Garden for Inspiration

Monet’s garden. Photograph by the author.

In conclusion, during the last few months of lockdown we have been confined to our houses. Some people are lucky enough to have a garden, whilst others have relied on viewing nature through their windows. To enjoy the garden’s of other artist’s, as featured in their paintings, check out this post.

We can all admire the way that Monet once utilised his house and gardens. He dedicated a large part of his life to creating this space. Then, it became the basis for his art. Therefore, all of the inspiration that he needed was right on his doorstep.

As the lockdown continues for many of us, we can admire and recreate the beauty we see in even the most basic spaces around us. After this experience, we may appreciate nature more than ever.

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