Saturday 14 November 2020

Monet 180 Giverny 10

 Born 180 years ago today was the great Impressionist painter Claude Monet (christened Oscar-Claude). For myself I find a little Monet goes a long way, but on a dank and dismal day like today it's cheering to recall the visit I made to the famous gardens at Giverny ten years ago. It was something I did not expect to enjoy very much, but in the event it surprised me. To quote myself: 

'The next day (in company with my brother and the others) I did something I never thought I'd do – visit Monet's house and garden at Giverny. I continued to think I'd never do it when we descended from the hills, having climbed up from the valley and walked through miles of misty woods, into a village swarming with visitors, taking photographs of everything as they strolled along the (very picturesque) street and forming long queues to get in to the house, their numbers augmented by the arrival of an endless stream of coach parties. We retreated to take an early lunch, after which – by a double miracle – the sun had pierced the morning mists and was shining gloriously, and the queues had temporarily gone. Seizing our chance, we went in...
I have to report that, though the place was still fairly overrun, it was ravishing. The garden on a sunny autumn day is just the kind of garden I love most - richly, abundantly planted, full of colour and interest, artifice and nature beautifully blended. The immense profusion of michaelmas daisies naturally had me looking out for butterflies, and, as well as plentiful whites, I spotted several red admirals, a brimstone and a couple of speckled woods. As for the house – yes, rather on the ravishing side too, with an abundance of fascinating and beautiful Japanese prints that I wasn't expecting. Yes, Giverny can feel like Monetworld, international HQ of MonetCorp - and yes, I'm not a huge fan of Monet overall – but that house and garden somehow retain something enchanting despite the visiting hordes (who were back in force by the end of our visit). If Monet had planned the whole thing – if he'd envisaged his own global megapopularity and the pulling power of Giverny – he could hardly have got it righter. It works.'

(Nigeness, October 10th, 2010 – a post that also contains an account of getting locked out of a Norman provincial hotel.)

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