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Claude Monet, The Water-Lily Pond

Key facts
Full title The Water-Lily Pond
Artist Claude Monet
Artist dates 1840 - 1926
Date made 1899
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 88.3 × 93.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1927
Inventory number NG4240
Location On loan: National Treasures, York Art Gallery, York, UK
Collection Main Collection
The Water-Lily Pond
Claude Monet

In 1893 Monet bought a plot of land next to his house in Giverny. He had already planted a colourful flower garden, but now he wanted to create a water garden ‘both for the pleasure of the eye and for the purpose of having subjects to paint'. He enlarged the existing pond, filling it with exotic new hybrid water lilies, and built a humpback bridge at one end, inspired by examples seen in Japanese prints. The water garden became the main obsession of Monet’s later career, and the subject of some 250 paintings.

Here, the bridge spans the width of the canvas but is cut off at the edges so that it seems to float unanchored above the water, its shape reflected in a dark arc at the bottom of the picture. The perspective seems to shift; it is as though we are looking up at the bridge but down on the water lilies which float towards the distance. The vertical reflections of the trees provide a counterpoint to the horizontal clumps of the lily pads.

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