Claude Oscar Monet painted Lilac Irises 2 in 1914 and only concluded it three years later, in 1917. This period represents the final stage of the artist's career, in which he began to develop cataracts in his eyes, making his vision blurry and affecting his way of painting. As an Impressionist, Monet painted mainly outdoors – or en plein air – to experience the surroundings and capture what he truly saw. The painter and his colleagues valued observing the natural sunlight with their own eyes, instead of imagining and idealizing it from inside a studio. Since Monet painted what he saw, his artwork began to have abstract qualities, since the condition of his eyesight made him see landscapes and the figures this way.
The artist fell in love with a small town called Giverny and began renting a house for him and his large family there in 1883. During this decade Monet traveled a considerable amount, striving to become a well-known and successful artist. He searched for different landscapes and subjects to paint and eventually began selling many paintings all around Europe and even overseas, in the United States. With his new financial stability, the artist was able to buy an extensive amount of land surrounding his home in Giverny, which he transformed into a fantastical garden. In 1911, his wife Alice Hoschedé passed away, making the artist widow for the second time, and shortly after, his son Jean also died – marking a sad and lonely period for Monet, who almost quit painting altogether.
The painting Lilac Irises 2 is one of the many portrayals Monet did of the flowers of his garden. He used a long, vertical canvas to portray one of his favorite flowers in a highly Impressionistic manner. The bottom of the canvas is a mixture of different pigments with thick layers of paint, representing the bundle of leaves of the irises, with shades of blue, black, green, violet, and a touch of yellow. Monet intentionally leaves an unfinished border on the bottom, with expressive brush strokes that show a bit of the canvas underneath. The middle of the artwork depicts some irises in dark purple and details in yellow, creating a complementary balance. The top of the painting holds thinner layers of paint in a circular motion with a blend of violet, white, and pink tonalities.
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