Claude Monet’s canvases are alive and well …
… and growing at the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, N.Y.
Monet painted his own gardens, gardens he and his five employed gardeners tended at his home in Giverny, France. And now, his floral landscapes have been lifted from the canvas and planted anew – bringing his work full circle.
The lush gardens surround visitors on the grounds at the NYBG, and the Conservatory Courtyard pools are filled with water lilies, to remind us of Monet’s well-known series.
As you enter the exhibition, you pass through a facade of Monet’s pinkish stucco house at Giverny. Walking along the Grand Allee, your eyes ping-pong from side to side to alight on irises, roses, hollyhocks, dahlias, sunflowers, nasturtiums, poppies, zinnias, cosmos, daffodils and asters.
Then, you approach his iconic Japanese bridge over a small pond. It’s as if you stepped inside one of his masterpieces. Walking across the bridge is a bit surreal, (or should I say impressionistic?).
Just outside of the floral gallery is the the Hardy Pool in the Conservatory Courtyard, where the gorgeous water lilies are on display.
Dozens of species of water lilies in an assortment of colors, including many of the same that Monet chose for his garden in Giverny, can be seen.
A stroll through the Poetry Walk marries poetry and flowers, to remind us of the French Symbolist movement and many of Monet’s creative friends.
Monet was part of a circle of artists, musicians, politicians and poets. On Tuesdays, Stephane Mellarme, a leader in the French Symbolist movement in poetry, hosted evening salons in his Paris home.
They called themselves “Les Mardistes,” derived from the French word for Tuesday, according to exhibit information.
Members of the group were stimulated by each other’s works – painters by poets, poets by musicians, etc.
Some of the poems written by Les Mardistes have been placed on large boards throughout the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden and Leon Levy Visitor Center. It is worth taking your time walking throughout the Poetry Walk, enjoying the plantings and the writings.
You can take a trolley or a short walk to the Rondina Gallery, where visitors can peruse an exhibit of documentary photographs, a digital rendition of Monet’s sketchbook and two paintings never exhibited together before, one of which has never been on display in the U.S.
“The Artist’s Garden in Giverny” was painted in 1900, and “depicts an iris-bordered path.” The second work on display is “Irises,” another of Monet’s favorite flowers and favorite subjects to paint.
Many of the documentary photographs show a white-haired Monet in his gardens, and you can also view one of the famed painter’s artist palettes.
In the same building are photographs by Elizabeth Murray, an artist and a gardener. She has documented Monet’s gardens for more than two decades, in every season. Monet’s gardens and house have been restored in Giverny, and have been open to visitors since 1980.
In connection with the garden exhibit, the New York Botanical Gardens also features films, concerts, classes, literature and family activities.
No exhibit trip is complete without a visit to the gift shop, and the one at the NYBG is full of Monet-related items, books, plants, cards and more.