a landscape lover's blog

garden tales from a Brit at home and abroad

Pre-existing memories of Giverny

An exhibition of Monet’s work opened this week at the Grand Palais. It is the first retrospective of his paintings for around 30 years in Paris, where he remains resolutely unfashionable.

His gardens at Giverny, in Normandy, are a major tourist destination. We visited last year and found the little town packed with visitors, all coming to view something which, in a way, they had already seen.

Giverny 1

His paintings of the bassin de nymphéas (the waterlily pond) are so well-known, so replicated on greetings cards and posters and place-mats, that we are all familiar with them, even those who have never seen any of the 250 or so paintings themselves.

Giverny 2

Emerging from the dark tunnel that links Monet’s house and its charming Clos Normand garden with the later Japanese-style water gardens, visitors feel a growing sense of anticipation on approaching the pond. It is a pre-formed memory; we know what is coming, even though it is new to us.

Giverny 3

The water gardens, with their wooden bridges and weeping willows, are actually a late twentieth century recreation of Monet’s original design, which virtually disappeared through lack of funds and neglect after his death. But, when we see the pond, we still experience a rush of recognition and familiarity. Most of the photographs I took suggested that I was the only one gazing at this famous garden; in truth of course, I was just one of the 400,000 visitors who pour through the site each year, seeking those familiar views.

Giverny 4

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on September 26, 2010 by in France outside Paris, Gardens and tagged , , , , .

Discover other landscape lover articles on these sites:

ThinkinGardens
On Botanical Photography
GGW
Soiled and Seeded
Along Life's Highway

Enter your email address to subscribe to my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 279 other followers

Categories