MOMA's Monet Water Lilies & France's Giverny Nurture Soul & Spirit

I’ve been meaning to write about Giverny for the past two weeks, and news of Christies’ $80.4 million sale of one of the Water Lily paintings was a top-of-page headline.

MOMA Waterlilies

Flickr photographer Jake T 
Since my earliest days in New York, I’ve visited MOMA to experience Monet’s Water Lily paintings. Just this week, I referred to myself privately as an Amazonian Lily. I schedule my visits away from peak crowd time and have enjoyed the gallery many times either alone, or with a few other equally contemplative individuals. Enjoying Monet’s Water Lily paintings is as close as I’ve come to meditation.

MOMA notes explain that Monet’s aim in creating the Water Lily paintings to supply “the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon or bank.”  … In his enveloping, large-scale canvases Monet sought to create “the refuge of a peaceful meditation in the center of a flowering aquarium.”

Like Paley Park, these paintings have been my refuge in the middle of Manhattan.

Musée de l’Orangerie


Flickr Photographer: VT Professor 
My next glorious exposure to Monet Water Lilies came in Paris,  as I wandered with my fiance, among the citrus trees at the Musee de l’Orangerie. I love the smell of fresh orange blossoms almost as much as jasmine. Hmmmm. Just writing these words, I’m transported back to the day I inhaled those orange blossoms.

During a span of 25 years between the 1890s and 1920s, the French painter Claude Monet had been busy painting diverse renditions of the Nymphéas (Water Lilies) which he had planted in the pond of his gardens at Giverny, Normandy. The feverish pace of his work produced nearly 250 canvases on this subject.

In 1922, he offered to donate eight giant (2x6m) panels of Nymphéas to the French state, if a suitable venue could be found for their display. The government selected the site of the Orangerie in Paris to exhibit them.

Working according to Monet’s exacting specifications, the architect Camille Lefèvre created a space for the works in the form of an oval gallery, whose curved walls would hold the huge paintings. The Musée de l’Orangerie had been born, though Monet’s paintings were not installed until 1927, a year after the artist’s death.

Final Destination: Giverny

MOMA writes

   … at Monet’s Giverny studio in 1918 (were) found “a dozen canvases placed in a circle on the floor … [creating] a panorama made up of water and lilies, of light and sky. In that infinitude, water and sky have neither beginning nor end.” What they had seen was a group of paintings that Monet planned to install abutting each other in an oval, encompassing the viewer in a sensually enveloping space. The aim, he said, was to supply “the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon or bank.” The Water Lilies triptych comes from this series, which describes a scene Monet not only showed in art but shaped in life: the pond in his own garden.

There was no pile of Water Lilly canvases heaped on the floor when I arrived in Giverny. But my three visits there have been consistently priceless.  

Oh my goodness. Every time I Google for help in my J’Adores, I end up back in Pennsylvania. Landing on this blog Life’s Little Adventures, I reviewed author Earl Steinbricker’s day trip to Giverny, with a voila! Clicking About, I expected to arrive in Germany, but no. Like a digital homing pigeon, I returned to Pennsylvania — not even Manhattan — although Steinbicker lived in New York as a professional photographer.  

It’s my week for professional photographers, but that’s another story.

I kiss you goodbye and leave you in Giverny for a slow-paced wander about the property.

It’s been 10 years since I admired the restored lily ponds. The spirit of Claude Monet, who has lived with me all these years … as my form of yoga … is calling me back.

A bientot,