However, at the time the exhibition opened, public enthusiasm for Impressionism was waning and largely discredited, in favour of Cubism, Futurism and Surrealism. By the 1950s a renewed interest by private collectors and curators encouraged a revival, led by the MOMA in New York purchasing one of Monet’s paintings in 1955. Comparisons of abstract art and Monet’s earlier work led to the revelation of formal similarities attributing him with approaches such as the birth of decentralised painting where no single aspect of the painting dominated any other – an all over painting style.
The word Nympheas (Water lilies) is derived from the Greek word meaning nymph and takes it name from the classical myth of the lily being gifted to a nymph dying of love for Hercules. It is also the scientific name for water lily.
Monet painted the scenes in his garden at Giverny using two forms of composition – one at the edge of the pond showing the dense vegetation and then later the Japanese Bridge playing on the emptiness and focusing on the surface of the water, the flowers and reflections.
For me, Monet’s Water Lilies provide great inspiration in working to capture the Reeds and, at this time of year, the ephemeral water lilies. Nothing is as transient, fleeting and short-lived as this tender flower floating on the water’s surface, but in that brief moment Skye’s hiddenness is revealed to me. Whilst many would say that Monet was seeking to capture the changing light and seasons (and to a certain extent that is what I am doing) it is more than this for me. As Monet said to art critic Gustave Geffroy in 1908:
“These landscapes of water and reflections have become an obsession. It’s quite beyond my powers at this age, but I need to succeed in expressing what I feel.” (Monet in Katz and Dars 2016:217).
Geffroy said of Monet and the lily pond:
“There he found, as it were, the last word on things, if things had a first and last word. He discovered and demonstrated that everything is everywhere, and that after running round the world worshipping the light that brightens it, he knew that this light came to be reflected in all its splendour and mystery in the magical hollow surrounded by the foliage of willow and bamboo, by flowering irises and rose bushes through the mirror of water from which burst strange flowers which seem even more silent and hermetic than all the others.” (Geffroy in Katz and Dars 2016:219).
The Loch, the reeds and the lilies of Cill Chriosd provide me with glimpses of the mystery, transitory light and shade, and the Islands “ephemeral hiddenness” (Price 2019:3). This is my Skye and that which I am trying to capture in my photography.
Katz R and Dars, C. 2016. The Impressionists: Their lives and work in 350 images. London, Lorenz Books.
Musee de l’Orangerie: https://www.musee-orangerie.fr/en/article/claude-monets-water-lilies [accessed 11 August 2019].
Price, A. 2019. FMP Final Major Project – The Essence of Skye.
Wildenstein, D. 2019. Monet: The Triumph of Impressionism, Cologne, Taschen.
These are beautiful.
Thanks Rod. More will follow as I develop my technique.
I love 47 and 35. The image of the lily-pads in 47 is reminiscent of but strikingly different to the Monet lilies. I remember seeing these on a trip to MOMA long ago and being staggered by the scale – so unlike the post-prints that were the obsession of young folks like me in the 1990s. Does this size of your photos matter? How would you mount and present this image? 35 makes me think of the view I look at every morning from Newland – over to a grass-covered hill with a single ancient oak at the summit. The grass is in constant motion like your reads. Land, water – the surface doesn’t matter. It is nature’s constant dialogue with us on transience and rebirth that matters. Your pictures and thoughts have brightened my day Alison. They are lovely to see.
Katherine – thank you so much for a lovely comment. I have not really given a great deal of thought to the size of the images although others have suggested I produce them large-scale. I am glad my images struck a chord and led you to remember your trips to MOMA a few years ago. x
Alison I don’t know what it is but there is something ominous about multiple exposures 50, strange.
Just wanted to say, I LOVE these images. Bob was showing them off yesterday. Great job!
Thanks for the great feedback. Will keep working at the technique and approach as Final Major Project comes together.