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Group: Giverny

Artist: Claude MONET
Birth/Death: 1840–1926

Title: Waterlilies
Date Made: 1907

Lender: Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Until 1907 Monet’s water landscapes were like fragments of the pool’s surface selected by the viewfinder of a camera. With a group of vertical canvases of 1907, depicting the narrow channel of reflected light between the reflections of the willows at the western end of the pool, Monet created an entirely new kind of space. The horizontal surface of the pool has disintegrated because the waterlily islands and the reflections of trees and sky which one knows lie on the horizontal plane of the water — read as vertical. The vertical format is like that of hanging scrolls, but the construction of space may well have derived from the study of Japanese screens, as well as from intense observation.

The scales of lavenders and violets in Waterlilies suggest cool early morning light. Monet has created a wonderful decorative harmony between these colours, the varied greens of the lilypads, and the pinks and vermilions of the waterlilies accented by sharp yellow-green and white lilies. These closely related harmonies and delicately curved linear brushstrokes slow the movement of the eye as it glides into the silvery channel of water; sinks into the illusory depths of the dark reflections; or looks down onto the surface of the pool, as if from above.

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