Since the dawn of time, man has been inspired by the beauty of art. The Macquarie Concise Dictionary describes art as “the production or expression of what is beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance”. I interpret the word art to refer to the physical reproduction of the artists own perception of the world around them.
A masterpiece is defined as “a consummate example of skill or excellence”. Therefore, when in search of a masterpiece of the artistic category, we must take into account the proficiency and dexterity displayed by the artist. With these basic principles in mind, it is my belief that one cannot surpass Monet’s series entitled “Waterlilies” and more specifically the painting “Green Reflections”.
I have adored the “Waterlilies” series for a number of years. It was its originality that first appealed to me. “Green Reflections” is my favourite due mainly to the use of the green colour to indicate darkness of the water. The painting seems busy, yet not overpoweringly so. There is much for the eye, while allowing room for personal interpretation.
Visually appealing, “Green Reflections” is a classic example of Monet’s personal style, being both scientific and painterly. This particular painting has captivated many admirers with its pretty pastel colours, prevalent in many of Monet’s works. The yellows and pinks of the lilies are in strong contrast to the deep blues and jungle greens of the water.Monet brought the study of the transient effects of natural light to its most refined expression, through the “Waterlilies” series. Therefore tone is an important aspect of the painting. It is used with great success, giving the appearance of shade on the right hand side.
The tone also gives the impression of water reflections.The “Waterlilies” series was a number of paintings of the same lily pond. The defining characteristic of “Green Reflections” is that it was the only one of the group painted at night. Monet’s fascination with light and colour was the fuel behind this concept.
Being an impressionist painter, very little of his works used line and shape. “Green Reflections” is no exception. Irregular patterns are prominent with little regard for structure and realism.The only way Monet could capture his version of “the truth of the moment” was through lying’.
Monet’s method made accommodations to his underlying philosophy of instantaneity and attention to decorative elements. Monet attempted to reconcile the idea of capturing a moment and his supposition that all moments must contain absolute truth through the use of a harmony of colours.Monet was considered an early pioneer of the impressionist era. The word impressionism is synonymous with the likes of Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, all associates of Monet. He was tutored in his early years by French painter, Eugene Boudin. Boudin passes on to Monet his love for nature and taught the young artist not to be afraid to break the rules.
Monet often spoke of his education with Boudin: “My eyes were finally opened and I understood nature; I learned at the same time to love it.” It was due to his informal training, that Monet never complied with conventional techniques of the era. In 1874, with a group of artists called the Independents, Monet organised an exhibition in which a number of paintings were viewed by the public for the first time. The group was labelled the Impressionists’ as their work seemed sketchy and unfinished. Despite the incompleteness of his work, the boldness of his colour and the extreme simplicity of his compositions, Monet was recognised as a master of meticulous observation.
An artist who sacrificed neither the true complexities of nature nor the intensity of his own feelings in achieving a goal. Monet’s technique developed over many years. By the mid-1880’s Monet, generally regarded as the leader of the impressionist school, had achieved significant recognition. It was with this new-found fortune that Monet purchased the property at Giverny, just outside of Paris. “Green Reflections” was painted in 1906, on this property.
His garden was a splendid juxtaposition of colour, lush over-growth and dense foliage. The exotic plant and wildlife that thrived in this handmade sanctuary were the focal point of Monet’s work towards the end of his life. The lily pond featured in “Green Reflections” also appeared in other works such as “The Japanese Footbridge”.As previously mentioned, Monet’s artwork pertained to the concepts of impressionism. However, many saw his later work as partially abstract.
In old age, Monet’s eye sight deteriorated with the formation of cataracts. His sense of colour was affected as well as his sight. This is believed to be what gave his last few paintings including “Green Reflections” a distinct feeling of abstraction.
Claude Monet truly displayed his artistic flare in “Green Reflections”. His complete abandonment of orthodoxy was a great influence on modern artists. With a combination of abstraction and impressionism, combined with simplicity and a varse use of colour, this painting is a true exemplar.bibliographyNON-FICTION BOOKSGerstein, Marc S. 1980. IMPRESSIONISM. Hudson Hills Press.
New York, USA.Spate, Virginia. 1992.
MONET: LIFE AND WORK. Rizzoli. New York, USA. Tucker, Paul. 1995.
MONET IN THE 90’s: THE SERIES PAINTINGS. Museum of Fine Arts in association with Yale University Press. Boston, USA.REFERENCE ARTICLES1965. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD ART. McGrow Hill.
London, England.1988. THE MACQUARIE CONCISE DICTIONARY. Macquarie University. Sydney, Australia.
1994. IMMERSIONISM and MONET, CLAUDE. Microsoft Encarta. New York, USA.WEBSITESMonody, Christopher. 1997.
MONET: THE WATERLILIES. http://www.ugrad.cs.jhu.edu/baker/images/monet/monet.
wl-green.jpg (August 18, 1998)Yen, Howard. 1992. MONET, THE CYBERSPACE GALLERY.
http://vinnv.csd.mu.edu/howard/monet/ (August 18, 1998)