One of the most wonderful "art experiences" I have ever had was at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (I really shouldn't "one of" because I went several times.) In one room they have 3 of Monet's Waterlilies - all wall size. You can sit on a bench and be surrounded by these beautiful paintings. I hope they still have it that way. I haven't been back to New York in several years.
Claude Monet was born November 14, 1840 in Paris and died at Giverny on December 5, 1926. He is the epitome of Impressionist painting. In fact he is considered the founder of Impressionism.The term Impressionism is derived from one of his paintings - Impression, Sunrise (It was part of the first Impressionist exhibit and an art critic used the term to disparge the artists. But the artists liked the term and decided to use it to describe their work).
Monet always knew that he wanted to be an artist. He began studying art at age 11 at the Le Havre Secondary School of the Arts. Around 1857 he met fellow artist Eugene Boudin who became a mentor to Monet. He taught how to paint with oils and, perhaps most importantly, how to paint "en plein air" - the outdoors.
Occasionally Claude would travel back to Paris to the Louvre Museum. He met several other painters including Edouard Manet, whose works bridge realism and impressionism.
In 1870 he went to London and became inspired by the landscapes of John Constable and Joseph Turner. These two artist would also have a profound effect on Monet.
In May 1883 Monet and his family moved to Giverny. He would remain there the rest of his life. He would find some of his greatest inspirations there, especially in his gardens. He began working on series of paintings. For instance his "haystacks" paintings. He would paint them at different times of day,different points of view, and different weather conditions, in order to see how the sunlight changed the shadows and colors.
As he became more successful he was able to spend more on his gardens. He planned them out, making precise designs for planting, everyday giving instructions to his gardeners. Today, the gardens are still there and opened to the public. Monet said of himself, "I'm good for nothing except painting and gardening."
There is a wonderful book called Linnea in Monet's Garden - also a DVD. It is a fantastic introduction to Monet for children - and adults can enjoy it as well.
The Japanese Bridge Over the Lily Pond was first painted in 1899. By the way this is not one of the paintings at the Museum of Modern Art. The picture at the right is bridge as it looks today, probably not much different than it did in Monet's day. The bridge appears in at least 40 of Monet's paintings
The painting at the right is also the bridge. It was painted in 1926 after Monet had developed cataracts. His eyes were operated on in 1923, but it is possible that he was now able to see certain ultrawave violet that the normal eye usually can't see. If you squint your eyes you barely make out the bridge. The other paintings are referred to as Waterlily Pond, Symphony in Rose (above, far right), Water Lily Pond (below right), and Water Lily Pond,Symphony in Green (below left)