While we were in Paris this June, we took a trip to Claude Monet's house and gardens in Giverny, where he painted his lovely and iconic water lilies. We picked the perfect time of year as all of the gardens were in glorious, full bloom. After visiting the gardens and house along with a zillion adorable 5-year olds on school holiday, we had a great lunch of an artichoke salad and rose wine in the garden of nearby Ancien Hotel Baudy.
Luckily for us, after we returned to Paris, we were able to view Monet's water lilies in the round at the Musee de L'Orangerie, where Monet designed and painted a space he donated to Parisians as a refuge for peaceful meditaion in the midst of what a flowering aquarium must be like. He focused on the changing qualities of natural light in his Giverny garden. The eight panels in two rooms evoke the passing of the hours from sunrise in the east to sunset in the west. With no horizon to orient the viewer, the elements-water, air, sky, earth-seem to merge in a compostion without perspective, where the water lillies create the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon and without shore. Wow!