I stood in the middle of a narrow path leading through Claude Monet’s famous water gardens in Giverny. On my left, I saw a crowd of tourists huddled on the Japanese bridge overlooking the water lily pond. I had come here to admire the historic sight, to be able to quietly think back to the impressionism period of Monet. I wondered what was it that led him to become denser with his brushstrokes after he moved to Giverny in 1883. After all, his gardens remained the inspiration for his ‘plein air’ (open-air) mood for 40 years.
I distanced myself from other tourists to be able to find peace in nature like Monet did. He moved to Giverny with his wife Alice, and eight children and renovated the gardens focusing on the changing presentation of nature. I looked at the mottled sunlight on my shoes, and tried to imagine Monet as he performed brisk manoeuvres on his canvas, and scraped off paint to create this exact same effect that I am saw on my shoes. The gardens are huge, distributed into two areas: the flower garden, and the water garden.
Monet’s house is a real life time travel machine. The most obvious personality trait someone would associate with Monet is that he was vibrant. His house reflects just that. It’s a burst of colours.
The main entrance of the house is fronted by two staircases that both lead to the first floor, towards the bedrooms. Mostly, one is used to go up, and the other to come down. Whichever one you choose to take, don’t miss out on my most favorite parts of the house; the dining room and kitchen.
The yellow dining room: This room is the brightest in literal terms, and the liveliest. Everything is painted yellow. A bit bizarre for today’s tastes, but interesting for art history. Each room tells its own story in this house. The furniture, original photographs and objects remain. The feeling is quite like being Monet’s guest and he’s told you he will meet you in a few moments.
A walk through the house, a little knowledge of the 19th century and an observing eye taught me so much about the living style of the middle class in France around this time. Separate bedrooms for a couple, separate toilettes and salles de bains. The interior and colour schemes made Monet’s art come alive for me in Giverny.
The little blue room: This is the salon, where Monet spent his family time. It is decorated with Japanese woodblocks, a personal favourite of Monet’s, and an inspiration for many impressionist artists. The tables hold the painter’s memories trapped in tiny frames. The hues on the walls triggered the blues inside of me.
The Studio: A few steps lead down to Monet’s first studio, where he worked until 1899. After this it became a sitting room. A few cane chairs are placed in the corner, along with the artist’s paintings hung in the “old fashioned” way, when hierarchy in art was still relevant.
The artist’s room: La Chambre de Monet holds the very bed he died in. A few of his artworks decorate the room, including the sketch of Paris Street; Rainy Day. A creamy bed frame, white sheets, and huge green windows make up the entire room. There isn’t much to it and there doesn’t need to be, what is important is the view overlooking the gardens. Monet put his heart and soul into creating them and made his most famous artworks a recreation of them on canvas.
Read about Monet and the gardeners who care for his legacy in a pictoral feature in The Good Life France Magazine – free to read online, download and subscribe
Having finished high school in France with a key interest in History of Art and English Literature, Muzna Hatmi is on a gap year in Paris with a love for writing, admiring art and learning French. She travels around France and Europe taking many pictures along the way. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @muznahatmi