Claude Monet’s long career was a quest to understand the effects of light and color on objects, and of the juxtaposition of colors with each other. To this end, of often painted the same subjects under different atmospheric conditions. “To me the motif was an insignificant factor,” he said, “What I want is to reproduce what exists between the motif and me.”
These motifs included haystacks, the Rouen Cathedral, the River Seine, Waterloo Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament, but it was in his lily ponds at Giverny that his muse would find her purest expression. Populated with varicolored species from France, South America and Egypt, their alternating light and mirror-like reflections transfixed Monet for the last thirty years of his life, during which he painted them in some 250 variations.
Rendered in an overall cool palette accented by white lilies turning pink with age, this piece is part of an early sub-series within this body of work, consisting of eighteen views of his Japanese footbridge spanning a pond. By the mid-1910s Monet would achieve, in the words of art curator Gary Tinerow, “a completely new, fluid and somewhat audacious style of painting in which the water-lily pond became the departure for an almost abstract art.”