A major exhibition examining how gardens were depicted by Monet and his contemporaries.
It is no coincidence that Monet spent his life painting gardens; the artist was a dedicated horticulturist who surrounded his homes with lush meadows, fragrant orchards and exotic plants. He wrote: ‘I owe it to flowers that I became a painter’.
In 1893 Monet decided to use his new found wealth to fund an ambitious landscaping project at his property in Giverny. Featuring a series of lily ponds and an ornate Japanese-style bridge, this spectacular new garden would occupy his paintings for the next 20 years – not to mention require a team of seven staff to maintain.
Devoting a quarter of the space to Monet’s work, this show at the Royal Academy positions him as the most important painter of gardens in the Modern period. Included are several of his water lily paintings, as well the artist’s horticultural books and journals and receipts that document his plant purchases.
Works by Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, John Singer Sargent, Paul Klee, Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Klimt and Wassily Kandinsky also feature, representing the multiplicity of approaches to the genre.
While for some the garden acted a visual utopia for others it was a space to commemorate experiences of loss, or as a means by which to experiment with abstract colour theory and decorative design.