Date of Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Roger I. Rothman
Since I discovered my love for art and art history I have been enthralled with the paintings of Claude Monet. Claude Monet is one of the most notable modern artists for his contributions in re-inventing the depiction of the natural world in bright colors and bold impasto, later known as the Impressionist style. Scholars have noted that throughout his life he was lured to the sense of beauty found in man-made environments such as city streets, parks and gardens. As he matured he devoted progressively more time to creating the most beautiful depictions of nature, turning away from human subjects and finding solace in his gardens. It was through this love of the natural world that his paintings became so famous, most notably the works based on his water lily garden in Giverny. Last year I had the opportunity to visit Monet's house in Giverny. Little did I know, there was a second garden next to Monet's house, which I will henceforth call the Clos Normand garden, named after his property at Giverny. Up to that point, I had never encountered references to this garden in any books on Monet. Through my opportunity to view the gardens in person I realized the water lily garden has distinct ties to Japanese garden design whereas the Clos Normand garden resembles more closely the gardens I saw at French châteaux. As I researched this house garden, it became apparent that there was a disparity in the scholarship pertaining to the water lily garden as opposed to the Clos Normand garden. Additionally, there is only limited scholarship on the paintings Monet made based on the Clos Normand garden. Instead, scholars have focused almost all of their attention on the water lily garden and subsequent paintings. Daniel Wildenstein wrote the entire first volume of the Catalogue Raisonné on Monet without specifically mentioning a single painting based on the Clos Normand garden. Even one of the most notable American scholars on Monet, Paul Tucker, glosses over the Clos Normand garden in the numerous volumes he wrote on Monet's life. When scholars, like Tucker, do mention the Clos Normand garden and its subsequent paintings, it is quite brief as compared to the time spent discussing the water lily garden. One major reason that such a disparity exists is that the water lily garden and resultant paintings exemplify one of Monet's most productive and innovative periods starting around 1900 and lasting until his death in 1926. Claude Monet, as his last dying gift to France, donated twenty-two panel paintings of the water lily garden. The composition, brushwork, number and size of these panels are all reasons why scholars choose to focus specifically on the water lily paintings as opposed to those of the Clos Normand garden. With paintings that are more closely studied, it is expected that much more has been written about the garden on which these paintings were based. However, it is important to note that the Clos Normand garden was painted at the exact same time and at the same property. Therefore, a study of Monet's late work would be incomplete without an understanding of both the Clos Normand garden and the ensuing paintings in addition to the water lily garden. Through a more comprehensive study of the Clos Normand paintings, I aim to improve the scholarly understanding of Claude Monet's late career.
Reeve, Rebecca Lynn, "Claude Monet's Perceived Nature: the Clos Normand Garden" (2017). Honors Theses. 419.