Sunday Evening Reflection: Giverny

Happy Birthday, Claude Monet!

I celebrated Claude Monet’s birthday yesterday, November 14, 1840, by going back into my photos of May 15, 2009. That was the day when I first met Claude Monet in his garden, walking along the pathway surrounded by the flowers that inspired his creative spirit.

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Claude Monet

Of course, Claude Monet and I had become acquainted during my visits to art galleries and through biographies and art books. I enjoyed our conversations as I viewed his paintings, imagining that he was looking over my shoulder and pointing out details of perspective and colour choice.

And yet, I knew that in his garden, I would find the essence of his artistry. His presence is still felt amidst the flowers, along the pathways and beloved Japanese bridge overlooking the pond of water lilies.

A sleepy rural village with roots dating to the Neolithic period, grape cultivation from Merovingian times, and a church built in the Romanesque style during the Middle Ages, became transformed with the arrival of Claude Monet in 1883.

Giverny became Claude Monet’s home and sanctuary. His garden stretched into a massive landscaping project, which became his ever-present source of inspiration. Clos Normand in the front of Monet’s home and the Japanese inspired water garden on the other side of the road.

I invite you to join me in a virtual walk through Claude Monet’s garden.

51 Thoughts

  1. Ah, a sweet place to remember, one I too recall from way back when on my first visit to la France and Giverny in his beautiful gardens. A very tranquil beautiful and inspiring place, even to contemplate man’s warring instincts, that by now, we might want start a more peaceful and intelligent fashion to air and solve our differences. At least one would think so … Thank you Rebecca for turning on that light in these less than happy times that need these beautiful flowers and humane feelings!

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    1. Your comments reminded me of Claude Monet’s thought: “Eventually, my eyes were opened, and I really understood nature. I learned to love at the same time.” I agree, Jean-Jacques, that when we experience the beauty of nature, of flowers, of a peaceful afternoon in a garden, our thoughts turn to quiet reflection and compassion for ourselves and the world in which we live. I am so glad that you joined Claude and me in the garden. The fresh smell of earth and flowers still lingers….

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    1. Thank you, Graham for joining Claude and me in the Garden. My takeaway from this experience was a profound understanding that I must envision a personal “garden” – that we all have an opportunity to be creative, to foster a love and respect for nature, for the earth, for our fellow creatures. And in so doing we create our “masterpiece” whatever form that will take. Thank you for your visit and comments – very much appreciated.

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    1. Let’s visit Giverny together! I have great hopes that travel will come again. I agree – when did he have time to paint?!!! What I find so amazing was that Monet questioned his ability, just as we all do. He once said, “My life has been nothing but a failure.” When I view his paintings I see a humble and gentle spirit, one that encourages us to breathe deeply to seek solace in nature. Sending hugs and love back to you, my dear clansister.

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  2. Dear Rebecca,
    this is one most beautiful gardens we have seen. One feels near to Claude Monet there.
    With lots of love and hugs
    ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly – I expected Claude Monet to appear just “around the corner.” It is so easy to imagine him with a paint brush in hand and an easel with a painting in progress. I was thinking of our conversation about colour when I came across this quote: “Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” Sending many hugs and lots of love to my dear friends, “The Fab Four of Cley.”

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  3. Giverny is one of the most beautiful, inspiration gardens I’ve ever seen! I was also there in May several years ago. There was so much in bloom it was hard to know where to look. Thank you for this lovely post remembering Monet’s birthday!

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    1. These photos were taken May 15, 2009. Who knows we may have passed each other on the path. What surprised me the most was Monet’s love of Japanese block prints beautifully displayed in his home (no photos were permitted of the inside of Monet’s home at the time of our visit). He never travelled to Japan, but I understand that by the end of his life, he owned 231 Japanese engravings. Thank you so much for joining me in the garden!!! Hugs!

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      1. I was there in May, 2011 and I remember that there were many windows in Monet’s house facing the garden. Your lovely photos reminded me of that wonderful visit!

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  4. Truly, a taste of Heaven. I felt present in Monet’s garden with his passion for participating in Creation’s beauty, love and joy. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing this beautiful video!!!

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    1. I am delighted that you joined me, Mary Jo. As I walked through the garden, I met up with several gardeners at work, their hands fully engaged in weeding or digging in the earth. Claude Monet envisioned the garden and others embraced his passion and carried on his work. It seems that art, in whatever form it takes, has a life that goes beyond that of its creator. And that is a comforting thought!

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  5. Now I’m kicking myself: I’ve been to Paris five times but never took a side trip to Giverny. The gardens are absolutely gorgeous — and your presentation about those gardens and Monet is “magnifique,” Rebecca.

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    1. I’m so glad that you joined Claude and me in the garden. I understand that about 500,000 visitors came each year, pre Covid19, to experience this garden. You can imagine how difficult it was to get photos without capturing other people taking photos. There is a gentle force at play in nature. While there were many visitors the day we were there, there was a reverence that pervaded the garden. Voices were hushed and most walked quietly along the pathways. It was enough to to breathe the scent of flowers and feel the presence of Claude Monet.

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    1. Thank you Lavinia for your heartwarming comments. When I look into the biographies of great painters, they have a garden in their lives. As Sir Walter Scott said, “Nothing is more the child of art than a garden.” Always enjoy your company.

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  6. “Colourful silence” says it all. What a beautiful and peaceful garden. Monet must have found all the inspiration he needed just by wandering through this exquisite garden. I’ve not been there yet, but your wonderful video was so delightful that I feel that I have at least seen part of its beauty. Thanks, dear Rebecca for this celebration of Claude’s birthday. I’m sure it would have pleased him so much. 🤗

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    1. It’s a date, Sylvia. We must meet one day at Giverny. The garden is exquisite, Claude Monet’s presence is felt throughout the ferns and flowers. AND there is a great place for gelato a step (literally a step) outside the gardens, plus several wonderful painting studies that are fun to visit where we can meet up to with artists. I know that travel will come back to us again. Hugs and more hugs coming your way.

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    1. So glad that you enjoyed our walk together, Teagan. Over the past months, our ability to connect virtually has created so many opportunities to engage in positive and transformative conversations. Exciting!!!

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  7. What an enchanting paradise. I’ve always wanted to visit Giverney, but it hasn’t come to pass. Your virtual tour is an absolute delight. Thank you for the virtual voyage, my friend.

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    1. I am so grateful for your company, Julie. Claude Monet’s life has so many interesting twists and turns, including taking refuge in England to escape the Franco-Prussian War. This is where he studied the works of John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner. I admire when artists value and show respect for other artists. Learning upon learning. But I have a feeling that nature was Monet’s greatest mentor: “My wish it to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.” Sending many hugs your way.

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  8. Thank you for this very special post. I’ve loved Monet’s work since I was in high school. A few years ago, my daughter gave me a poster of his painting of the Japanese bridge. It’s framed and hanging in my bedroom. I enjoyed the walk through Monet’s beautiful garden, but what I appreciated most about the post were the quotes you shared.

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    1. Thank you, Liz. About 20 years ago, I bought that same poster – the bridge alone without anyone crossing over. It is still hanging in my bedroom. Have you noticed how much serendipity flows through our blogging community. I have another one next to it of Kylemore Abbey in Ireland, purchased the same time. We have yet to travel to Ireland. Travel will come back one day! I am so glad that you enjoyed this walk through Giverny with me. I enjoyed your company!!! Hugs!

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  9. Thanks Rebecca, I have always wanted to visit Claude Monet’s garden and now I have while listening to some deligtful music on my headphones – a double win. I remember seeing one of his waterlilies hanging by itself in the National Gallery. It was huge! And for a glorious moment Got the same shock of the new the original viewers must have felt when it was first unveiled. Art Poetry and gardening all directly touch the soul.

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    1. I agree art, poetry and gardening make an exquisite trio. A few years ago, the Vancouver Art Gallery had an exhibition of Claude Monet’s painting that were completed when he had developed vision problems. What was remarkable was Monet’s determination to continue despite this adversity. His paintings were remarkable, but because his vision was impaired, he chose darker colours in brown and gold – the colours of autumn. There was a poignancy to the exhibition that reminded me that in every stage of life we must be bold and have courage.

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  10. You were so blessed to be able to see this lovely garden, what a beautiful place he created, one more piece of his art. I enjoyed seeing all your friends comments to your post. as well. Thank you, I treasure all off the things you post for my enjoyment.

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    1. Diana – thank you so much for joining me in the garden. I love our conversations! A couple of questions that crossed my mind as I walked along the pathways was: Would I have been like others of the time that rejected Impressionism? Would I have closed my mind to a fresh perspective? It is so easy to remain “safe” rather than go exploring. So now, when I see something that I don’t understand, I wait and ask myself – is this an Claude Monet moment? I agree – Mother Nature is the perfect muse!!!

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    1. I am so glad that you joined Claude and me in the garden, Inese. You create amazing gardens with a brushstroke, my dear friend. I enjoy our conversations and look forward to every one of your posts which are filled with beauty and joy.

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  11. One of the regrets of my life, Rebecca; being so close, yet so far!
    Perhaps there will come another opportunity to visit Monet’s incredibly beautiful masterpiece, his garden. I do hope so; I know it must be grand; just as your wonderful video portrayed.

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    1. Thank you, Carolyn. What made this visit memorable was that when I was there, a dear friend passed away back home in Vancouver. Gardens have a compassionate way of caring for those who grieve. Life is precious…

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      1. So very sad, Rebecca. Losing a dear one is something always remembered. Thankfully, though, there are so many wonderful memories mixed with the loss.
        There are those I’ve known and lost, yet it is their uniqueness of love and sincerity I remember most of all. And the joy I felt in their company that brings a smile to my heart.

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      2. How very very well said, my dear friend. It is a reminder that we must create wonderful memories for those who come after us. We have no time for anger and recriminations. You have a marvelous way of embracing life!

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  12. How fortunate Monet was to have created such a glorious garden, Yes, it is a masterpiece. How fortunate we are to have his inspired paintings, and his garden’s legacy.
    Wonderfully presented, Rebecca.
    Happy birthday, Monet!

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly , Resa. In one of your posts you mentioned how lighting, texture, and colour worked together to created a mood. When I was reading up on Monet, I thought about your post because I read that Impressionism was all about the effects of light on the local colour of objects, and the effects of the juxtaposition of colours with each other. I find this fascinating.

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      1. Also, sometimes, I wonder if some artists were short sighted (myopic) and this is partly why/how the style/look came about.
        When I tried to paint without my glasses, it came out Impressionist.

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      2. An very insightful point, Resa. A few years ago, the Vancouver Art Gallery had a exhibition on Monet’s later paintings when he had cataracts. The colours were beautifully brought together, but instead of spring colours, he had autumn golds, reds and browns.

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      3. I had my cataracts removed, about 3 years ago. I was a medium age for onset, but they progressed very fast.
        I was seeing a kind of sepia tone tinted world, but didn’t realize it until the cataracts were gone.

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