Claude Monet lived in rural Giverny from 1883 until his death in 1926. Many of the paintings that we most closely identify with his oeuvre were done on his property or in the neighborhood. Following his death, the property deteriorated until its restoration was completed in the 1970s with the help of Lila Acheson Wallace, of Reader's Digest fame. This book was created to in part to honor that restoration and the show that commemorated it. The show marked the beginning of a resurgence of interest in Monet that continues to grow. My only reservation about recommending this book is that it would have benefited from larger sized pages so that the reproductions could have been larger.
Giverny is located to the north of Paris, and is connected to Paris by the rail line from Gare St. Lazare (which Monet painted several times). The view of nature we get there is a reflection of Monet's very French focus on creating gardens, a lily pond, and walkways that bring natural beauty into our controlled grasp.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Monet's home at Giverny several times since it was restored and highly recommend that you make this journey as well when you are in Paris. Your concept of Monet's work will be changed by seeing his working conditions. The grounds are primarily an extension of his studio, for making observations of nature easier. First time visitors will be shocked to realize that the lily pond was dug and expanded at great effort and expense by Monet. Without his persistence, we would be missing many of our favorite Monet paintings.
Throughout the time that Monet lived in Giverny, his eyesight deteriorated . . . mostly due to cataracts. As an artist friend of mine points out, that eye affliction greatly improved his painting by making it freer and less detailed.
He also pioneered many techniques of al fresco paining, such as creating an artist's studio in a boat for his famous river scenes. This enabled him to capture many unusual perspectives from the water to the river bank. Similarly, one purpose of the Japanese bridge over his lily pond was to give him a similar point of perspective.
The book contains a map of Giverny and Monet's property (purchased in 1890 after he originally rented it), and 81 works that he created in the area.
Missing from these reproductions are the famous water lily paintings that he gave to the French nation which are now housed in the basement of the Orangerie. Be sure you see them when you next visit Paris. Many people go to the Orangerie and never make it to the basement. These are among the greatest jewels of Impressionism.
You will be pleased to see the 25 works from the Musee Marmottan in Paris. These masterworks are also often missed by those who visit Paris because they do not know about this small gem of a museum and its superb Monet collection.
The reproductions are organized around themes: (1) river scenes (from the boat) (2) haystacks [sic] (3) poplars (4) river and fields (5) morning on the Seine (from the boat) (6) the Japanese footbridge (7) the Garden Path (8) early water lilies (9) the late series (my favorites are the rose trellises over the garden path) (10) pond subjects, and (11) late water lilies.
The end of the book also has a chronology of Monet's life and works that will help you integrate this show into his entire work.
You will come away with a new excitement and respect for nature from these images. You will also feel more connected to and with the beauty of nature. Your mood will be lifted, just as Monet intended. What you see will be uniquely yours, also just as intended. Monet pays you the ultimate compliment here of letting you participate in the creative process by arranging the work in your mind to fit your mental needs and perspective.
After you enjoy these images, I suggest that you come away inspired to make what you do more accessible to others. How can you make your life and your work easier for others to participate in?
Live in beauty!