Whenever I think of Paradise, I always imagine a beautiful, lush, peaceful garden, where all my dear ones are present, the trees are bright green, the flowers are full of color and the sound of running water together with the songs of the birds are the only acoustic distractions.
All around the world, in every culture, every religion, there are descriptions of the concept of Paradise. Ancient Greeks painted it as an age of innocence and harmony that was devastated when Pandora opened the box in which all the evils of the world were enclosed. Both the Bible and the Koran talk about gardens of Paradise, and Buddhist teachings pave the way to Nirvana, a state of being free from suffering.
The idea of Paradise has been sketched by many artists in numerous forms, based on either stories or imagination. Claude Monet is among those who painted based on a personal view of Eden, a view that he first applied to his own backyard.
In 1893, Monet purchased a house in Giverny, a locality north of Paris, and being just as passionate about gardening as he was about painting, he proceeded to create his own earthly heaven. This garden became his favorite painting subject and beginning in 1899 he created eighteen images of it, in different weather conditions, at distinct times of the day and in various seasons, regularly in square format. Sometimes he displayed the Japanese bridge and the greenery around the pond, and other times he showed just the flowers floating on the water.
“Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge”, oil on canvas dating from 1899, has the Japanese bridge wonderfully anchoring the composition even though it seems to be gliding above the pond without any connection to the ground. Its curve divides the image into two sections, the lower part being a blend of soft greens, light blues, pale yellows, with hints of russet-brown and white, while the upper area displays mostly dark hues of green and blue, broken by pale yellows. The sky is barely visible, Monet enclosing the space to create a sense of privacy, secrecy and even exclusivity, so that looking at this canvas I feel lucky to be on this side of the organic wall, admiring this Paradise that stretches before my eyes, luring me into Monet’s magical world.
Until next time,