Claude Monet, the founder of French Impressionist painting, is one of the most popular artists in the world. He lived from 1840-1926, and spent much of his life in Giverny, France – about 50 miles northwest of Paris. He purchased a property there in 1883, and it became the focus of much of his art. In 1893, he purchased a pond on adjacent land, and created a beautiful water garden, complete with Japanese arched bridge and, of course, water lilies. This water garden was so inspiring to Monet that he created over 250 oil paintings (of all sizes) in a series entitled Water Lilies. Monet’s Water Lilies paintings are displayed in art museums all over the world. If you’ve ever seen one of these amazing paintings, you’ll know first-hand the genius of Monet. Not only are the paintings enormous (often taking up entire rooms), but each brush stroke is a masterpiece.Monet loved to paint nature; his style was inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and color, which he employed in an avant garde (innovative) way for the time. He began his paintings en plein air (outside) and then completed them inside. In 1966, Monet’s son Claude bequeathed the property to the French Academy of Fine Arts, where it is a museum and popular tourist attraction.
Download a larger image and share the photo with your class, then try these discussion questions and classroom activities:
- The most famous garden in the world is located in Giverny, France. Look at these amazing photos on Pinterest of Monet’s Gardens in Giverny. When you look at these pictures, do you see what Monet saw? Discuss how beauty informs art – and how surrounding yourself with beauty can inspire.
- Watch this video about Monet, and how he built his gardens at Giverny. Note how Monet’s work changed over time – moving toward series paintings, focusing on light and shadow.
- Do you have an iPhone? Get this incredible Monet’s Garden app, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG). Take your own impressionistic photos, learn more about Monet, and tour the Monet’s Garden tribute at the NYBG.
- Read the section on The Japanese Garden & The Waterlily Series of Paintings. What surprises you about Monet and his gardening? Do you think that painting only pristine gardens is authentic art? What about bugs, plant decay, rain, dirt?