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Monet's Garden in Art Paperback – 1 May 2004
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About the Author
Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and a Scholar in Residence at the Newberry Library, Chicago. She lectures regularly at many of the major museums in the United States and Great Britain.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
More than anyone else, Claude Monet recognized that his garden, rather than his words, presented the path to understanding his art. In 1920, to mark the occasion of Monet's eightieth birthday, the Duc du Trevise, a noted collector of Impressionist painting, made a journey to Giverny. He was met at the gate by the elderly master, who, still vigorous, looked like 'a poet's vision of old age'. Trevise was eager to see the vast studies for the Grandes Decorations housed in Monet's studio, but the painter's first words surprised and delighted him. Monet greeted his guest with a simple suggestion: 'It's a beautiful day. Shall we take a turn in the garden?'
While Monet was cautious about discussing his art, he was always eager to talk about his garden. His involvement with gardening grew over the years, from the modest flowerbeds that brightened the first house he rented in Argenteuil to the magnificent gardens he cultivated at his home in Giverny. No visit to his home was ever complete without an escorted tour of his two gardens - the colourful flower garden and the tranquil water garden. Critics and colleagues often commented that Monet was a changed man in his garden. The stern manner and the gruff wariness that characterized his public persona in Paris gave way to warmth and ebullience in Giverny.. He was always urging his visitors not to miss the ephemeral beauty of his flowers: the blossoming of the iris in the spring, the opening of the aquatic lilies in the afternoon, the blooming of the wisteria as the sun gained strength in the summer. But astute visitors realized that Monet wanted to share more with them than the dazzling seasonal display. The garden offered insight into Monet's art, with a beauty and clarity that he could not put into words.