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Japanese Footbridge
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Oscar Claude Monet could fly to the moon and back for his garden in Giverny.

But if you try to take away a man’s right to build his lily pond because you’re afraid the exotic plants will poison your water, then he won't be your friend. Monet’s neighbors didn’t get the memo; he fought them hard and finally got his way. He made more than 250 paintings of his garden and the Japanese footbridge over the lily pond is featured in quite a few of them. Monet painted this footbridge in 1899. After years of painting nature as it is, Monet could finally design nature for his canvas. He carefully designed every feature of his beautiful garden. He strategically planted irises and lilies, good solid colors. He refused to include plants like ficus or croton, basically leafy plants that have patterns on them and they would appear splotchy. In Monet's opinion, those plants looked unnatural.

His relationship with his garden is what fairytales were made of. They overcame obstacles, fell in love, and promised to be together, forever. Monet preferred painting plen-air, in his garden. Sitting in front of his lily pond, he would paint the same scene every day as the light slowly changed. He may have been the first painter to attempt time-lapse visualization in the 19th century. Coincidentally, Georges Melies, pioneer filmmaker, was the first to attempt the technique in cinema in 1897. Both of these artists were in and around Paris at the same time. I doubt they ever met, but their friendship could have been legendary.

Monet was truly blessed with a green thumb, but he was painting at the mercy of nature. However, when it came to human intervention, Monet mostly got his way. When he was working on the Poplar tree series near Giverny, the villagers decided to auction the trees. But Monsieur Monet had a series of paintings he had to complete. He couldn't let a lumberjack get in the way. He paid the buyer to get him to delay felling the trees. People-0. Monet-1.

Monet’s genius lay in his understanding of time. He wasn’t just painting an instance in time. Each individual work represented a passage of time. The Japanese footbridge wasn’t one moment of a particular day. Monet stretched the moment in the garden, pervading different instances of time. He let us enter his garden and then quickly locked the door behind us. It's like living in a GIF, only you aren’t a part of it. The moment persists, with or without you. The Japanese footbridge continues to cross the lily pond, without Monet.

Sources

Sources

  1. Smart, Alastair. “Why are Monet’s water-lilies so popular?”. The Telegraph. Accessed May 27, 2019. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-features/11167000/Why-are-Mo...
  2. Clark, Nick. “Monet's water lilies: How the iconic paintings almost never made it to the canvas”. Independent. Accessed May 27, 2019. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/monets-water-l...
  3. Olson, Cathy. “The Gardens of Clause Monet”. Emmitsburg.net. Accessed May 27, 2019. https://www.emmitsburg.net/gardens/articles/adams/2012/claude_monet.htm
  4. Metmuseum.org. “The Four Trees, 1891”. Calude Monet | The Four Trees | The Met. Accessed May 27, 2019. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437121