Water Lilies (or Nymphéas, French) is a series of oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet.
The paintings depict his flower garden at his home in Giverny, and were the main focus of his artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.
He began the series in 1914, at the age of 73, setting up his easel beside his pond in Giverny and staying put as World War I flared around him.
It has often been said that Monet painted the water lilies in near-total seclusion, but in fact he was surrounded by "a bustle of appreciative people, from his staff of gardeners, to his stepdaughter, Blanche, who lived with him until the end, to his dear friend Clemenceau, who was at his bedside, holding his hand, when he died. In art, as in so much else, it takes a village." (New York Times)
On 19 June 2007, one of Monet's Water Lily paintings sold for £18.5 million at a Sotheby's auction in London. On 24 June 2008 another of his Water Lily paintings, Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas, sold for almost £41 million at Christie's in London, almost double the estimate of £18 to £24 million.
He said, ‘It took me some time to understand my water lilies. I planted them for pleasure.’ And so he began to work on what is probably the most famous series of paintings the world has ever seen.
From "Monet Refuses the Operation," a poem written by Lisel Mueller in the voice of Claude Monet as an elderly man speaking to his physician:
Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see...
Watch Lisel Mueller read the full poem here:
Monet started to paint the water lillies when he was 73. In this book you may enjoy what are probably the most famous series of paintings.
Claude Monet: Waterlilies and the Garden of Giverny is available from Quay Books. Only €20 ( reduced from €39), buy here:
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