The iconic water lilies, Japanese Bridge, weeping willows, purple wisteria and green bamboo… they all remain just as they were when Claude Monet captured them with his quick, tempered, impressionist brushstrokes – and just as inspiring. Even for those who’ve never strolled through them, the gardens instantly evoke a familiar feel and are surely a part of any art lover’s bucket list.
Claude Monet, born in Paris in 1840, is sometimes referred to the Father of Impressionism. The very term ‘impressionism’ was even derived from the title of his painting Impressions, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise). Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas – these were the artists who ushered in a new avant-garde way of expression, changing the face of art forever, although at first they were widely mocked and criticised. Even the moniker ‘impressionism’ was originally meant as an insult by an art critic. Up until then, paintings were more traditional – with a seamless blend of colours and shadows. Monet used short, quick brushstrokes to illustrate movement and the play of light. He painted outdoors when artists at that time only used their studios. He was both a revolutionary and a visionary.
In 1883, Monet first came upon the pastoral town of Giverny, population 301. To an artist born and raised in the hustle and bustle of Paris, it was a quiet utopian paradise where he could move his family and draw inspiration for his paintings for much of the rest of his life. Once moving in, he quickly set about designing the home and garden. Each room in his house has a distinct colour scheme, chosen by the master himself. He also kept hundreds of original Japanese wood block prints, along with a print of “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” to inspire him.