Irises in Monet’s Garden, Claude Monet
Irises in Monet’s Garden, painted by Claude Monet in 1900 is a stunning vision of throbbing natural energy and rich with the pulsating rhythms of life. In the wild foliage, the artist finds an internal order and submits his depiction to the will of the leafy filigree. Depicting a landscape rich in varied intentions and in various stages of abandonment, Monet set up his easel in front of a section of his garden that had originally been a walled orchard, which he had recently transformed into a further extension of his garden. Returning from a trip to London where he had painted and sketched a number of pieces that would contribute to his London in the fog series, Monet found happiness with his return to the spring at Giverny. He painted four paintings in this part of the garden, Irises in Monet’s Garden being the first. It depicts a view of the apple blossoms silhouetted against the blue sky, with a horizon placed a little below the middle of the canvas. Dotted clumps of Irises merge with the grass under the trees, before the artist introduces a small alley to the right of center. It almost appears as if the flowers have occupied the space and are spreading like wildfire before the eyes of the viewer.
To best capture the exuberant foliage of spring, Monet used a fresh and bright palette, fusing into a harmony of soft green and purple. A great deal of Monet’s most favored styles, formal conventions, and flourishes shifted at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1899, Monet began painting the environs of his house at Giverny almost exclusively, having set up an extensive garden with imported plants and a purpose-built Japanese-style bridge. He began changing the format of his canvases that had previously been rectangular and very small. Now his canvases took the shape of elongated, increasingly diverse and increasingly large works. The compositions not only shifted focus but became almost abstract in their scope, as Monet invented a new pictorial language. Yet the creative process slowed down for the aging artist, who was used to working at an immense speed. Less objective, his later works began to be partially or fully completed in his workshop rather than outdoors, from life. Still immersed in nature, the proximity of Monet’s garden inspired a powerful lyricism in the artist, leading beyond Impressionist and into the wilderness of pure, ecstatic decoration that would characterize his later works.