Claude Oscar Monet concluded over two-hundred and fifty oil paintings portraying his famous water lily pond, including Water-Lilies 42. After his first wife, Alice, passed away, the painter married Alice Hoschedé, a close family friend. They both had small kids from previous marriages and joined to create a large and happy family. Monet traveled a lot to pursue his career as an artist and eventually became very successful, selling his paintings in many countries.
In 1883, the painter and his wife moved to Giverny, where they were able to rent a house. As the painter’s financial situation improved, he bought the properties surrounding his home to create a large garden. Housekeepers were hired to help Alice, and Monet had as many as six gardeners maintaining his living masterpiece, which required constant care. Many other modern painters decided to move away from the busy cities like Paris and move to the country-side, like Monet. His Impressionist friends would also visit and portray his garden, like Pierre Auguste Renoir.
The Japanese art was an excellent representation of the Oriental culture and embodied an opposition to the Classic standards of art based on the ancient Greeks. Monet was very inspired by the woodcut prints that these artists produced – as well as his colleagues – and this reflected on his art. These exotic artworks represented an entirely different culture, but the artists related to their love for nature. The Japanese artists, like the Impressionists, portrayed their surroundings. This could have caused an impulse for them to leave their studios and paint en plein air, meaning they depicted the landscape while working outside. These woodcut prints came in vibrant colors, unusual compositions, dark contours and a different sense of perspective.
As a reflex of this passion, Monet installed a small pond on his property and built a Japanese bridge over it. The artist chose exotic water lilies to decorate his landscape, which he imported from South America and Africa. In Water-Lilies 42, the painter depicts a detail of his beloved pond. He featured two blossoming lilies in shades of yellow, and pink. As an aesthetic influence of the Japanese art, the figures in this oil painting have dark contours. The water is a muddy, green-brown color, and the floating leaves vary from shades of blue and green, highlighting, even more, the bright flowers.
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