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Waterlilies
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Group: Giverny

Artist: Claude MONET
Birth/Death: 1840–1926

Title: Waterlilies
Date Made: 1907

Lender: Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, Izumi

Monet has depicted the pool at twilight, and has represented the reflections, as well as the upper islands of lilies, with fine linear strokes which dissolve the water surface into pulsing, dynamic lines and dabs of contrasting colours. The painting gives enough space for the waterlily islands to float around the chasm of water in an almost symmetrical arrangement. They seem to hover in front of the reflections of trees and twilight sky, thus establishing even more radical fractures in the spectator’s consciousness of space. This consciousness oscillates between seeing the insistent verticality of the reflections and knowing that the foreshortened planes of the waterlily leaves must lie on the horizontal plane of water. Monet could have experienced these effects by gazing in an unfocused way at the islands of leaves ‘without knowing’ what he saw, in such a way that the ordered space of a world of identified objects fluctuated and disintegrated. There are similar effects in certain sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Japanese painted screens, which Monet could have seen in Paris, in which small curved gold leaf clouds appear to float outwards from the surface and to partially cover hills, river banks and trees.

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