How many artists can paint hundreds of equally beautiful paintings around a single inspiration?
Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” (or “Nymphaes”) is perhaps his best-loved, most popular work. And certainly the most prolific: Over a period of 30 years, he painted 250 artworks in various sizes - from small canvases to wall-size murals - around this one theme.
Indeed, when it came to his beloved water lilies, Monet was never out of things to paint, as it married art and gardening - his life’s two great passions. But behind these iconic masterpieces is a decades-long history of ecstacy and tragedy.
Suddenly I had the revelation of how magical my pond is. I took up my palette. Since that time I have scarcely had any other model.
- Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Whilst living in Giverny - home to his magnificent garden and birthplace to his Nymphaes - he suffered through the recent death of his wife, bad reviews from art critics, a controversial affair with and eventual loss of his great love (a married woman whose husband was a massive Monet fan), the slow demise of his son due to syphilis, and the gradual loss of his eyesight. And in between, the public decided to fall in love with his work at last, giving him great wealth and prestige. Rumour has it one year’s income from the sale of his paintings could have afforded him the Hope Diamond!
Today, art lovers make the pilgrimage to Giverny, to marvel at Monet’s fantastic collection, enjoy the same meticulously kept garden that inspired him, and celebrate the consummate artist’s long and full life.
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