Monet’s Garden in Giverny with Marie Dessaillen

Monet’s Garden in Giverny with Marie Dessaillen


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Join an art historian to discover one of the most fascinating and original gardens of France, created by Claude Monet and the inspiration for his last series of paintings, the Water Lilies.

Claude Monet is one, if not the most famous of the impressionist painters. But he was also a fantastic gardener, who could not move into a new house without spending hours with his shovel planting colorful flowers. His last house happened to be in a little village of Normandy called Giverny, an hour away from Paris. There, he spent the last 43 years of his life, surrounded by his family, trying to keep his fans at bay, working on his two gardens and his series of paintings. This is where the Haystacks and the Poplars were painted. But the series that fascinated him the longest was the Water Lily paintings.

"The conversations are the next best thing to being there with some of the best guides in the world."

Monet was passionate about Japanese engravings, which he started collecting in his thirties. The Japanese gardens, as he saw them in those images, spoke of poetry that touched him. He wanted to paint his own take on them but could not find in France a similar landscape. But Monet always painted "en plein air", to recreate perfectly the changing of light and colors. When he finally reached commercial success, he bought some land on the other side of the train tracks at the end of his flower garden, and slowly turned it into what he imagined a Japanese garden must look like. A large pond, a little bridge, some weeping willows, and water lilies. It was his private space. And he spent the rest of his life painting it.

"Marie is not only an expert in art and history, but also gifted with a passion for teaching in a way that makes art and history come alive."

Led by art historian Marie Dessaillen, this interactive discussion will show how this constant immersion in his garden led Monet to his most modern paintings. We will focus on the evolution of the series, the influence of Japan in the perspective as well as the subject, and how Monet donated his last work to the French State for a new museum dedicated to his Water Lilies, to ensure that the visitors would appreciate all the optical effects of his paintings.

This is the second part in a series on famous gardens around Paris.

The daughter of a sculptor, Marie has been surrounded by art ever since she was born. A native Parisienne, she holds an undergraduate degree in history and art history, with a specialty in iconography and French and Flemish paintings from the 16th to the 18th centuries. She also holds a Master's degree in museology from the Ecole du Louvre and one in Art History from the Sorbonne.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.