Claude Monet Paintings 1914-1926

Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet was painted from 1920-1926. See more pictures of paintings by Monet.

Claude Monet's personal life was marred with tragedy. In January 1910, a deluge of rain broke through the banks of the Epte, flooding Monet's property and causing extensive damage to the water garden. Two months later, his beloved Alice was diagnosed with myelogenous leukemia, and, when she died a year later, Monet became so depressed he could not paint.

The summer of 1912 brought more devastating news: Monet's fatigued vision, now more troublesome than ever, was caused by double cataracts. Although Claude Monet refused the recommended operation, in 1913 he broke his long spell of inactivity, painting the rose-covered trellises at the entrance to the water garden.

 Monet Image Gallery

By April 1914, Monet's confidence returned, for, as he explained in a letter to friend Gustave Geffroy, he had revived an old idea he had put aside and was now working with vigor on some large paintings. Throughout the summer, Monet worked with his old speed and intensity, painting in his water garden on canvases so big he had to climb on a tall stool to reach them.

To accommodate his failing eyesight, he painted outdoors only in the early morning and late afternoon, avoiding brilliant sunlight, and spent the middle of the day in the studio. He worked from the moment he awoke until he could no longer wield his brush.

Claude Monet called his current project The Grandes Decorations. He was now working on an even larger scale, and, later in the year, he built a vast new studio, illuminated by northern light streaming from a glass ceiling. Monet's concept was now clear: He transferred the fleeting effects he painted on site at the water garden onto canvases that were six and a half feet high and 14 feet wide. He mounted his easels on wheeled dollies so he could move his panneaux (panels) around the studio and arrange them in different combinations.

Claude Monet painted more than 40 panneaux for The Grandes Decorations. He covered his vast canvases with a large brush, building his surface with layers of color. He would first apply shades of a dominant tone -- a pale violet or a golden green -- and then work in his motifs over the plane of modulated color in broad gestural strokes. He attained an unprecedented surface texture, ranging from delicate hues applied in thin, translucent glazes to areas of thickly encrusted pigment.

The last years of Claude Monet's life were absorbed in preparing the panneaux of The Grandes Decorations. He continually repainted them, discarding some canvases but always feeling compelled to start new ones. Monet had to stop working when he submitted to a series of cataract operations in January 1923. Despite corrective glasses, his full vision never recovered, but he returned to work in the summer of 1925.

In the new year, he selected 22 panels to be installed in two elliptical rooms in Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris. The first room would follow the changing effects of light -- in Morning, Green Reflections, The Clouds, and Sunset -- seen as fleeting reflections on the waters. Weeping willows would be the dominant motif in the second room, with a panoramic view of the glassy waters glimpsed between randomly placed trunks and drooping branches.

Monet did not live to see his panneaux installed, but, as he wished, the canvases were removed from their stretchers and affixed directly to the curving walls. He also requested that his paintings remain unvarnished and be viewed in natural light. A ceremony was held to open Musée de l'Orangerie on May 17, 1927. The work housed there bore the legacy of Monet's lifelong pursuit to express his feeling before nature.

Find out more about Claude Monet's paintings from 1914 though 1926:

  • Claude Monet's Irises by the Pond depicts Monet's favorite flower, the iris. Learn more about the technique behind Monet's Irises by the Pond.
  • Claude Monet's Water Lily Pond with Irises included panels over six feet tall and 14 feet wide, immersing the viewer into the world of the water lilies. Check out the spectacle of Monet's Water Lily Pond with Irises.
  • Claude Monet's Waterlilies at Giverny is an immersion into water and light. Learn more about Monet's Waterlilies at Giverny.
  • Sunset by Claude Monet is an ensemble of light observations, ranging from deepest violet-red to shining yellow gold. See Monet's Sunset.
  • Claude Monet's Water Lily Pond is part of the Grandes Decorations series, sharing motifs and light effects. Learn more about Monet's Water Lily Pond.
  • The Clouds by Claude Monet employs the basic element of water as a mirror, with an ever-changing appearance of life. Check out Monet's The Clouds.
  • Claude Monet's work The Morning evokes the morning's cool air and serene silence in order to create a sensuous visual experience. See Monet's The Morning.
  • Morning by Claude Monet shifts to focus on the perceived rhythm of the lilies and light on the water. Discover the beauty of Monet's Morning.
  • Green Reflections by Claude Monet features a cooler palette of greens and blues and employs a different angle of vision. Discover Monet's Green Reflections.
  • Claude Monet's The Two Willows is a four panel ensemble that continues the cool hues seen in The Morning, but the reflections of the clouds deepen to a warm pink. See how Monet's honed his observation with The Two Willows.
  • The Morning by Claude Monet reflects Monet's dedication to observing the fleeting effects of natural light. Learn more about Monet's The Morning.

Irises by the Pond by Claude Monet employs various techniques to capture the essence of the irises. View the brush strokes Monet used in the next section.To learn more about art, famous artists, and art history, check out:

Irises by the Pond by Claude Monet

Irises by the Pond by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-1/2x59-1/4 inches). It's housed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Irises by the Pond by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-1/2x59-1/4 inches). It's housed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Claude Monet favored irises throughout his life, as reflected in his 1914-17 work, Irises by the Pond. He had them planted in the water garden along a serpentine path and in random clusters near the edge of the pond.

The sinuous quality of his brush stroke describes their tall stalks and whiplash foliage, and the lightness of that stroke suggests a breeze stirring the surrounding leaves and reeds. The blossoms of the flowers are quickly dabbed in with short strokes of pure pigment.

Water Lily Pond with Irises by Claude Monet is arranged in such a way that the imagery of the paintings flows from canvas to canvas seamlessly. Learn more about Monet's Water Lily Pond with Irises in the next section.

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Water Lily Pond with Irises by Claude Monet

Water Lily Pond with Irises by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 236-1/4 inches) and is housed at Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland.
Water Lily Pond with Irises by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 236-1/4 inches) and is housed at Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland.

With the easels mounted on wheeled dollies, Claude Monet arranged the panels so the imagery flowed from canvas to canvas as if it were a vast, single surface. The large panels measured roughly six and a half feet in height and 14 feet in width.

He defined his groups by motifs, such as the willows with their branches cascading over the waters or the tall irises reflected along with clouds on the surface of the pond, as seen in Monet's 1914-22 work, Water Lily Pond with Irises.

Claude Monet's Waterlilies at Giverny aimed to portray an infinite unity of water and light, unbounded by horizon or shorelines. Check out the next section to see Monet's Waterlilies at Giverny.

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Waterlilies at Giverny by Claude Monet

Waterlilies at Giverny by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (39-3/8 x 78-3/4 inches) and is housed at Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, France.
Waterlilies at Giverny by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (39-3/8 x 78-3/4 inches) and is housed at Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, France.

For years Claude Monet conceived of painting a decorative ensemble that would cover the walls of a room with paintings of the water and the floating lilies. Upon entry, the visitor would be immersed in the sensations of light and water, an infinite unity unbounded by a horizon or shore, as seen in his 1917-19 painting Waterlilies at Giverny.

Claude Monet's Sunset illustrates Monet's meditation on light and its subtle variations. Click to the next page to see Monet's Sunset.

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Sunset by Claude Monet

Sunset by Claude Monet is an oil on                              canvas (78-3/4 x 236-1/4 inches). It is housed at                                            the Museé de L'Orangerie, Paris. (Left panel)
Sunset by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 236-1/4 inches). It is housed at the Museé de L'Orangerie, Paris. (Left panel)

In the first room of The Grandes Decorations, Claude Monet presented the subtle variations of light shimmering on the water of his pond. The times of the day vary, and the ensemble provides a meditation on the spectacle of light -- the subject that intrigued him throughout his career.

The sunset is expressed through a vivid interplay of color, from the deepest violet-red to the shining yellow-gold illuminating the surface of the pond in Claude Monet's 1920-26 painting Sunset.

Claude Monet's Sunset is housed at Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris. (Right panel)

Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet features a subtle play of light to enhance a sense of motion between the large panels. Learn more about Monet's Water Lily Pond in the next section.

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Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet

Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 236-1/4 inches) housed at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.
Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 236-1/4 inches) housed at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

Claude Monet produced more than 40 panels as he worked on The Grandes Decorations. He generally conceived the panels in groups of three or four with shared motifs and light effects.

In this panel of the 1920-26 Water Lily Pond, the lilies float out of the reeds toward the center of the pond. A subtle play of light enhances this sense of motion, intensifying from the cool shadows at the right to the warmer illumination near the top left of the composition.

Claude Monet's The Clouds evokes the feeling of the cool, damp, fragrant air found near the water's edge. In the next section you'll experience Monet's The Clouds.

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The Clouds by Claude Monet

Claude Monet's The Clouds is housed at Musee de                              l'Orangerie, Paris. (Left panel)
Claude Monet's The Clouds is housed at Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris. (Left panel)

Claude Monet portrays the experience of the cool, damp, and fragrant air in his 1920-26 work, The Clouds.

The panorama of clouds begins and ends in deep shadow. Near the edge of the pond, the light is dim and the muted surface of the water reflects the dense curtain of foliage that shades the water's rim. The colors evoke physical sensations related to the atmospheric condition.

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The Morning by Claude Monet

This panel of Claude Monet's painting The Morning (1920-26) features a subtly modulated blue palette for the span of water seen beyond the tree trunks and the hanging branches. Reflections of clouds glisten on the water in delicate tints of pink, white, and pale yellow. Color translates the morning's cool air and serene silence in the tranquil water garden from a sensuous to a visual experience.

Morning by Claude Monet brings more of the dazzling brightness of morning to the canvas. Click to the next section to see Monet’s work, Morning.

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Morning by Claude Monet

Morning by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 83-5/8 inches) housed at Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris.
Morning by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 83-5/8 inches) housed at Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris.

Claude Monet uses the verdant banks to frame the shifting waters in this 1920-26 work, Morning. The four panels that compose the ensemble are united in a flowing rhythm.

As the sun climbs to its zenith in the sky, the lilies open in a dazzling display of bright color on the muted planes of the leaves and waters. The surface of the pond is in constant motion, and the lilies rise and fall on the gentle crests, just as the eye skims over the surface of the pond.

In Claude Monet's Green Reflections, Monet shifts to a cooler palette of green and blue to suggest the refreshing shade around the pond. Check out the next section to see Monet's Green Reflections.

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Green Reflections by Claude Monet

Green Reflections by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 167-3/8 inches) housed at the Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris.
Green Reflections by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 167-3/8 inches) housed at the Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris.

In his 1920-26 painting Green Reflections, Claude Monet emphasized cool tones of blue and green to suggest the refreshing shade around the pond. He chose a low angle of vision, allowing the water to flow from edge to edge, eliminating the sense of the water being restricted by the surrounding terrain.

Through years of observation, Monet had watched the random motion of the lilies on the water, and this convinced him that, with the play of light, the motif presented an infinite range of variation.

Claude Monet's The Two Willows is an expanded, panoramic take on a motif Monet visited with Les Nympheas and a color palette continued from The Morning. See Monet employ these together in the next section.

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The Two Willows by Claude Monet

Claude Monet's The Two Willows is housed at                                      Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris. (Left panels)
Claude Monet's The Two Willows is housed at Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris. (Left panels)

The four panels of 1920-26 painting The Two Willows by Claude Monet are framed by single willow trees with arching trunks. The leaf-laden branches dangle above the pond's rim, swayed by the suggestion of a gentle breeze.

The graceful lines of each tree lead the viewer's glance to the broad span of the water. The palette continues the cool hues of The Morning, but the reflections of the clouds on the water have deepened into a warm rose pink.

The Two Willows by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 167-3/8 inches). (Right panels)

The Morning by Claude Monet was part of The Grandes Decorations, which were conceived to be a testament to what he had learned in a lifetime of observations. In the final section, find out about Monet's The Morning.

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The Morning by Claude Monet

The Morning by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 167-3/8 inches). (Left panels)
The Morning by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (78-3/4 x 167-3/8 inches). (Left panels)

Claude Monet dedicated his life to capturing the fleeting effects of natural light and the sensations of the atmosphere.

The Grandes Decorations were conceived to be a testament to what he had learned in a lifetime of observations, including the 1920-26 painting The Morning.

Claude Monet’s work The Morning is housed at Musée de L'Orangerie, Paris. (Right panels)

But it also expressed his deepest convictions -- that even a lifetime could not reveal the meaning of nature's mysteries and that the eternal beauty of the natural world endured beyond the limits of human comprehension.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American painting, including Publication International, Ltd.'s, Impressionism and Van Gogh. Other titles include Sunflowers, Monet's Garden in Art, Van Gogh: Fields and Flowers, and Mary Cassatt: Reflections of Women's Lives. Ms. Mancoff is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.