Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Keeping Monet's gardens abloom.
The Giverny house, which Monet was too poor to buy at first, was the painter’s home for 43 years. He eventually had the money to build a greenhouse, add a studio and hire gardeners, though at first he forced his children into labor. In his later years, he guarded the garden jealously, allowing only rare visitors.

But after his death, the house was empty for decades and the gardens were overgrown and abandoned. Monet’s son, Michel, made the Academie des Beaux-Arts his heir in 1966. Ten years later, Gérald van der Kemp, who masterminded the restoration of Versailles, took on the job of restoring Monet’s estate. Efforts were made to find people who had been there in Monet’s time, to try to recreate the way it once looked. But by then, most were elderly and trying to recall what they had seen in their childhoods, Mr. Priest said.
Figuring out what was once in the garden was not always easy. “We know he had geraniums because we have a picture with geraniums,” he said. “But that was one year. We don’t know if they were always there. Monet was constantly changing things.”

Mr. Priest says that, to some extent, the garden is successful if it captures the essence of Impressionism — its bright colors and a feeling of gaiety. (Read entire article.)

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