Embellished Manuscripts Collection
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The French Impressionist painter Claude Monet surrounded himself with natural beauty in his Giverny garden. Reproducing one of his many Water Lilies paintings, our Monet journal sets his signature artwork against a letter he sent to Berthe Morisot, a fellow Impressionist.
Claude Monet (1840–1926) belonged to the group of artists who gave birth to the influential Impressionist art movement. In fact, the very name of the movement comes from the title of Monet’s oil painting Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise). When a less-than-impressed critic attended an 1874 art show featuring the subversive art of Monet and his associates, the critic coined this term and used it as a gibe at Monet’s manner of painting. Of course, the rogue artists were only too happy to embrace it as the name for their movement.
The term “Impressionism” reflects these artists’ focus on the effect that light has on colours and the transient quality of the visuals surrounding us. Monet was especially eager to capture and communicate this on his canvas. After he purchased a property in Giverny, a town just outside of Paris, Monet blended his artistry with another one of his passions, botany.
His new property boasted a fabulous garden and Monet took to painting in this natural setting. In the middle of the 19th century, at the time when few artists could fathom painting outside of a studio space, his “en plein air” style marked him as a maverick. Given the hundreds of works Monet composed in his Japanese garden at Giverny, it remains one of the most prolifically captured outdoor spaces in contemporary art.
The pond in his garden soon became the subject of a Monet painting, and thus began his famous cycle of lily paintings that continued until his last days. A reproduction of one of these images provides the background for this cover, which also features a handwritten letter addressed to Monet’s fellow Impressionist Berthe Morisot.
In his quest to convey the immediate mood of the scene, Monet used a technique where his patchy brushstrokes downplayed objects’ outlines. In this cover image, the deeper blue provides a dramatic contrast to the bright splotches of lilies. While many of his lily paintings effuse serenity, here we have an example of a more vibrant, emotive interplay of colours.
Today, the many painted versions of Claude Monet’s water lilies are among the most celebrated and reproduced nature studies.
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MONET - WATER LILLIES
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