A copy, of course-- a cheap poster print I had mounted on foam board to hang in my college dorm. Over the next few years, it bent and crinkled and went the way of all imitations.
Previously, Tony and I had enjoyed Water Lillies at L'Orangerie museum in Paris. The bigger than life paintings hang in oval rooms, in diffused light as requested by Claude himself.
It required a little negotiation, a change in travel plans, but we made it to Giverny--Monet's home and setting for 250 works painted in his gardens and his lily pond. It was a beautiful decision.
The gardens were perfection! Whimsical, manicured, colorful, innovative, and infused us with a subtle, not entirely conscious, desire to linger. Foremost the garden was color: pure yellows, deep whites, soft purples, embarrassed pinks, navel oranges orange, and envious reds. In photographs of Claude Monet standing in his garden, we saw that time and meticulous gardening had kept them the same.
Photo taken from the open window of Monet's bedroom--just before a light shower of rain.
After a magical walk through rows of flowers, trees and vines, I wondered Where are the ponds? The ponds were a staircase and a modern-day underpass away. It was hard to believe I was amidst the inspiring landscape of a Monet painting. I wanted to take a thousand photos to save the moment, but with each click, I knew the photos could never capture the three dimensional beauty--ah, and this was the great challenge for Monet! The impressionists, wanting to preserve stark beauty forever, perhaps knowing the canvas could never duplicate the natural world, blurred the lines. They played with light, with shade, with color. Ah, this is the job of the writer too--to reproduce landscape, experience, feelings, with only the color, the subtlety, and the nuances of words.