New York City exhibition evokes Claude Monet's flower garden

A New York City exhibit will offer a taste of Claude Monet's indisputably radiant living masterpiece — his beloved flower and water gardens in the north of France.
By ULA ILNYTZKY Published: June 10, 2012
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— Claude Monet's beloved flower and water gardens in the north of France are world-famous. But for those unable to visit the artist's iconic home, a trip to the Bronx over the next several months will offer a taste of Monet's indisputably radiant living masterpiece — a riotous display of color, plant variety and landscape design.

“Monet's Garden” at the New York Botanical Garden evokes Monet's lush garden at Giverny, the impressionist's home from 1883 until his death in 1926.

A passionate gardener who once declared, “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers,” Monet found endless inspiration from his exuberant gardens. The water garden alone accounts for some 250 paintings, including a series of monumental canvases that led to his Grandes Decorations at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris. His flower garden is featured in at least 40 works.

The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 21, will feature a seasonally changing display of flora, currently a spring kaleidoscope of poppies, roses, foxgloves, irises and delphiniums inside the botanical garden's Enid A. Haupt Conservancy. It also includes two scarcely seen garden-inspired paintings, Monet's wooden palette, rare photos of Monet in his garden and 30 photographs of Giverny by Elizabeth Murray, who has recorded Monet's flower oasis for 25 years.

These are all located at the botanical garden's LuEsther T. Mertz Library.

A facade of Monet's pink stucco house with its bright green shutters — a historically accurate replica by Tony Award-winning set designer Scott Park — marks the start of the exhibition. From there, visitors are led down the Grand Allee, a shorter recreation of Monet's rose-covered trellis pathway lined on both sides with thick beds of vibrant flowers.

The path opens up to a replica of his famous Japanese footbridge arching over a water lily pool encircled by willow trees and flowering shrubs.

“He could stand at his doorstep, as you can in this recreation, and look down the allee to the Japanese bridge in the distance,” said the exhibition curator, Monet scholar Paul Hayes Tucker.

“Since we know what flowers he planted, we can be very accurate historically,” Tucker said. “It is only a fraction of his undertaking but, nonetheless, an enormously rich and extensive fraction.”



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