Claude Oscar Monet moved to Giverny in 1883 with his family – his wife Alive Hoschedé and their numerous combined children. This was a difficult time for the artist, for his wife Camille had passed away, and he now had a much larger family to maintain. Monet found a house with a garden, where he stayed for the rest of his life, as he sought to distance himself from the big cities. Many other Impressionists moved to the countryside as well, with the same state of mind – some of which visited and portrayed Monet’s garden, like Pierre Auguste Renoir.
Not long after their move to Giverny, Monet gained visibility for his body of work and was able to sell many paintings in Europe and the United States of America. Because of his new financial stability, the artist was able to create the garden of any painter would dream of seeing. He hired many gardeners to maintain his living masterpiece, as well as housekeepers to help at his home and with his kids. Later, he installed a pond with a Japanese bridge going over it – a theme that repeated in a large series of paintings, including Water Lilies (The Clouds).
The Impressionists greatly admired the Japanese culture and art, as they collected many Japanese woodcut prints that came to Europe. The prints done in the technique called Ukiyo-e worked with themes of beautiful nature and familiar subjects of the daily life. Monet and his fellow artist friends enjoyed basking in a different aesthetic influence than the ones of the Classic Greek art.
In the portrayal Water Lilies (The Clouds), Monet chose to show only the water and doesn’t include the bridge. The painter had problems with authorities, for he imported exotic water lilies from North Africa and South America – to have beautiful blossoming lilies to observe and paint. The pond reflects the green vegetation around it, as well as the blue and violet sky, along with the clouds. Europe was experiencing a change in time, where things happened at a quicker pace, and materialism was rising. The Japanese woodcut prints brought along a stillness and a connection to nature of cultural importance. The Impressionists embraced this state of mind, and this reflected in their work.
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