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Waterlilies and Japanese bridge
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Group: Giverny

Artist: Claude MONET
Birth/Death: 1840–1926

Title: Waterlilies and Japanese bridge
Date Made: 1899

Lender: Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey
Credit Line: From the collection of William Church Osborn, Class of 1883, Trustee of the Princeton University (1914-1951), President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1941-1947); Gift of his family

Inside Kameido Tenjin Shrine — indeed Hiroshige’s image may have inspired Monet to have an arch built over his bridge on which to grow wisteria. Hiroshige placed small figures on the bridge and sitting under wisteria on the opposite bank; Monet has depicted a nature that is completely solitary, even at the heart of his family garden.

In the Japanese bridge paintings, Monet had retained a subtle linear perspective which channels the eye into depth, thus conserving a characteristic of naturalistic painting where the picture plane is conceived as a window through which one looks at a view. There are traces of this mode of seeing in the earliest water landscapes at Giverny where Monet depicted fragments of the world beyond the pool — reeds or willow fronds, the bank of the pool.

In the 1900 series the greens and golds are interwoven with strokes of fiery red from the setting sun that irradiate the whole composition with pulsing colour, and draw the eye down to the depths of the pool beneath the shiny reflections between the islands of waterlily leaves. Pink and white lilies astonishingly hold their own against the reds. These paintings — were influenced by the equally sensuous Japanese screens representing flowers on a gold ground that reflects light (see Bush clover, pampas grass and chrysanthemum, attributed to So¯setsu).

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