Monet, Waterlilies

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In the spring of 1883, after having wandered along the banks of the Seine from Le Havre to Paris for 20 years, Claude Monet (1840–1926) settled in Giverny. The painter participated in the collective adventure of Impressionism and displayed works at the group's four first exhibitions from 1874 to 1879. Crowned with success, he withdrew and purchased the house known as Le Pressoir in 1890. His painting soon took a new direction. While continuing to exalt colour, he delved increasingly deeper into the study of the pictorial space. In 1893, Claude Monet requested permission to divert water from the Ru river to create a "water garden". He made a pond spanned by a footbridge, a reference to his love of Japanese art.

In 1899, through his work on the Waterlilies series, Monet embarked on unprecedented research as he focused almost exclusively on a motif that would become like a signature. Once he had finished the Japanese bridge series in 1900, the artist concentrated on the blooming waterlily pond. First intermittently, when he was not working on the Waterloo Bridgeseries, and then on an ongoing basis when he began a large suite in 1904. From spring to fall, the artist set up easels around the pond so he could capture sensations on several canvases at once and rework them later in his workshop. The Waterlilies at MuMa, painted in 1904, are part of a suite of forty-eight canvases known as "Waterlilies, a Series of Waterscapes" shown at Durand-Ruel's gallery in Paris in 1909.

This square painting emphasizes the decorative potential of colour. The framing eliminates almost all topographical reference to convey the infinite in perpetual motion. Once he had shaped nature and created a space especially for his painting, Monet would tirelessly explore this dominant subject for twenty-seven years. The Giverny garden became a laboratory that led to a genuine transformation of the landscape, in which colour prevails over form. His undertaking thus signalled the abstraction that would be developed by the artists of the New York School in the wake of World War II.

Artworks in context : Impressionism (24)

Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917), Washerwomen, ca. 1870-1872, oil on canvas, 15 x 21 cm. © Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication / Didier Plowy
Alfred SISLEY (1839-1899), The Loing at Saint-Mammès, 1885, oil on canvas, 55 x 73.2 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Portrait of Nini Lopez, 1876, oil on canvas, 54 x 39 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), The Pilots' Jetty at Le Havre, 1903, oil on canvas, 54.5 x 65 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), Winter Sun at Lavacourt, 1879-1880, oil on canvas, 55 x 81 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Édouard MANET (1832-1883), Boats at Sea, Sunset, ca. 1868, oil on canvas, 43 x 94 cmŒuvre récupérée à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. déposée en 1961 par l'Etat ; en attente de sa restitution à ses légitimes propriétaires. MNR 873. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Johan Barthold JONGKIND (1819-1891), Quay at Honfleur, 1866, oil on canvas, 32.5 x 46 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), Snowy Landscape at Crozant, vers 1895, oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), London Parliament, 1903, oil on canvas, 81 x 92 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917), After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, ca. 1884-1886 / 1890 / 1900, pastel on wove paper, 40.5 x 32 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), The Excursionist, ca. 1888, oil on canvas, 61.5 x 50 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Statue of Henri IV and Hôtel de la Monnaie, Morning, Sun, 1901, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), The Seine at Samois, ca. 1898, oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), The Creuse at Crozant, ca. 1893, oil on canvas, 60 x 73.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Johan Barthold JONGKIND (1819-1891), Paris, Pont Marie and the Quai des Célestins, 1874, oil on wood, 23.5 x 32 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Claude MONET (1840-1926), The Seine at Vétheuil, 1878, oil on canvas, 50. 5  x 61.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Quai du Pothuis, Banks of the Oise, 1882, oil on canvas, 46.3 x 55.3 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Sunrise at Éragny, 1894, oil on canvas, 38.3 x 46 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Crossroads at L'Hermitage, Pointoise, 1876, oil on canvas, 38.5 x 46.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Bay of Salerno or Southern Landscape, 1881, oil on canvas, 46 x 55.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Woman Seen from the Back, ca. 1875-1879, oil on canvas, 27.1 x 22.1 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Pines at Cagnes, ca. 1919, oil on canvas, marouflage on cardboard, 31.5 x 38.7 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Jules CHÉRET (1836-1932), Woman in Black with Muff, ca. 1885, oil on canvas, 33 x 25 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn