Giverny would probably not exist if Claude Monet had not had an affair with a married woman. With his relationship with Alice Hoschedé subject to many prying eyes, Monet traded a life in the French capital for a home in the country-side in Northern France.
In 1883 the painter would move to Giverny – famously known as the home of Claude Monet Foundation – where he would rent the home that he would end up purchasing in 1890. He began a landscaping project in the home garden, where he would live until his death in 1926.
The entirety of the home was redesigned by Monet himself who preserved the original pink cement exterior, repainted the shutters and doors green, the dining room bright yellow, and repaved the kitchen with blue and white Rouen pottery.
Monet was, much to his dismay, a perfectionist. Particularly when it came to the garden. He diverted a branch of the river to feed into a pond that he had constructed. He had also hired seven gardeners to maintain his “masterpiece”, entrusting one to the daily mission of wiping the dewdrops from the lilies nestled in the pond.
The lush garden is composed in two parts: the “Clos Normand” located in front of the house and the “Jardin d’Eau”, a Japanese garden.
The “Clos Normand” is an English-style garden, where flowers bloom freely. Monet was passionate about botany and brought in many varieties at great expense. “All my money goes into my garden,” he notoriously said.
The “Jardin d’Eau” is inspired by the Japanese gardens, which Monet knew of from his immense collection of Japanese prints. The pond is asymmetrical, linked by a small Japanese bridge – famously painted by the artist 45 times – and surrounded by the no less famous water lilies. Monet never stopped working on his Japanese garden, his creation being expressed here twice, first by the creation of the garden and then by his painting.
The house is colourful – perhaps a little too much for my taste – but the gardens are absolutely enchanting, wonderful and timeless. As a whole, it leaves beautiful impression of a place full of life – of 8 children frolicking – and of love.
Because Monet had finally married his beautiful Alice.
July 2, 2021