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Water lilies, ponds, a Japanese footbridge and blankets of glorious flowers: nothing evokes Claude Monet's Impressionist paintings quite like images from his garden at Giverny, about 50 miles northwest of Paris. Living there for nearly forty-three years, Monet (1840-1926) discovered a profound source of artistic renewal in his garden, a motif he would paint for the rest of his life. Monet's passions for horticulture and colour drove him to plan his gardens like a veritable work of art. He designed a garden with elegant paths, graced with arching metal trellises and bordered with Japanese apricot and cherry blossom trees. He then set out flowerbeds with literally thousands of bulbs and flowers, including daffodils, irises, narcissuses, poppies, peonies and tulips. In 1893, Monet purchased a plot of land from his next-door neighbour. By diverting a nearby stream, he created a pond there, which he planted with water lilies and dubbed the water garden (le jardin d'eau). His finishing touch for the pond was an exquisite Japanese bridge painted bright green and festooned with lilac vines. In 1897, he began painting his water lilies series, the hallmark of his work, now displayed at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris. Monet's colourful house also reflected his unique aesthetic and was the center of his artistic life for decades. He had his dining room painted a dazzling yellow and his kitchen tiled with cheerful blue tile from nearby Rouen. Painter friends and famous people came to dine, stroll in his gardens, and admire his work. Echoes of his friends, colleagues, and family still can be heard in these rooms today, which are also captured brilliantly in the book. In The Gardens of Claude Monet, Dominique Lobstein's insightful writing and Jean-Pierre Gilson's lush four-season photos bring critical moments in Monet's life alive for us, so that Monet's personal experiences and creative universe take a definite and vivid form.
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