Beyond ‘Monet’s Garden:’ Paintings, Pictures, and Poetry
|Ann Rafalko is Director of Online Content.|
When I was in Paris last June, it was hot–hotter than it is today in New York City–with temperatures flirting with the mid-90s. I was not in Paris for work, but since I’m a bit of a workaholic, I convinced my friends to accompany me to Giverny, where we found a serene, green oasis. Despite my friends having little interest in plants and gardening, they loved our trip to Claude Monet’s jardin, because you don’t go to Giverny to look at plants; you go to Giverny to experience Monet. You go to find a deeper understanding of the great Impressionist, and we’re hoping you come to Monet’s Garden for the same reason.
Inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are the stars of the show, the recreation of Monet’s flower garden and his iconic water garden. But outside, in the paths of the Perennial Garden and the environs of the Conservatory, you can read works–in English and French–from Monet’s contemporaries, the Symbolist poets. Impressionism was a full-blown artistic movement that extended to the very edges of the bohemian circles of Paris and beyond. Linger amid poppies and peonies and phloxes and contemplate what Charles Baudelaire meant when he wrote, “Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige/Chaque fleurs s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir” (“Now comes the time when swaying on its stem/each flower offers incense to the night”).
From the Perennial Garden, walk down the path closer to the Visitors Center which takes you through the Ross Conifer Arboretum, turn left onto Garden Way, and then turn right up Tulip Tree Allée to the grand steps of the domed Library Building. Pass through the Orchid Rotunda, and take the elevator to just underneath that majestic dome, to an exhibition in the Rondina/LoFaro Gallery of rare documents, archival photographs, Monet’s actual palette, and two paintings created by the master at Giverny. Since I’m playing favorites in this post already, I’m just going to go ahead and gush about how much I love the one painting, Irises, which is on display in the United States for the first time, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous collector. Irises is brooding, it’s bold, and it is utterly beautiful.
From the Rondina/LoFaro Gallery, a Garden employee will help you make your way to the Ross Gallery in the Herbarium building where photographs of modern day Giverny are on display. These photographs have been taken over the course of 25 years by Elizabeth Murray, but Murray is more than a photographer–she is also one of the forces behind the restoration of Giverny, and her photographs offer a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes workings of these very famous gardens.
And that’s not all. There’s even more: lectures, concerts, childrens’ activities, and our app, but we’ll cover those another day! So come visit Monet’s Garden. Whether it’s hot, or rainy, or simply perfect, I guarantee you’ll leave the Garden with a deeper understanding and appreciation for Claude Monet.