The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny, oil on canvas was created in 1899 by Claude Monet, and is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts. Monet was born in 1840 and was raised on the Normandy coast of Le Harve. Claude started out young, he began to create a reputation for himself as a caricaturist during his teenage years. Famous landscape artist Eugene Boudin became interested in Monet’s work and asked the aspiring artist to accompany him while Boudin painted a landscape series of the local beaches, introducing Monet to outdoor painting which is believed to have played a part in influencing Monet’s artistic career path.
Monet’s artwork varied from caricatures to views of landscape, challenging himself with creating the most realistic views of his scenery. He painted landscape views of towns, churches, and outdoor areas. He then moved on to paint over two hundred and fifty paintings of water lilies and his series of paintings of his backyard pond, becoming a very well-known and popular landscape artist before his death in 1926.
Flowing water, dancing waterlilies, bushy and willowing trees, a simple looking, blue, Asian crafted footbridge, and amazing perspective overwhelm this painting. The allegory in this piece would be in the environment, the serene sense of comfort and relaxation disguised by slowly moving water in the pond and the use of cool and calming colors such as blues, greens, whites, yellows, and pinks. The subject of the painting is Monet’s own back yard in Giverny, France in 1899.
Monet bought the property in 1893, where he introduced exotic plants into his garden pond and had a Japanese style footbridge built. Monet painted a series of pieces that showed multiple perspectives of his pond. The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, was the only vertical painting, creating a new intriguing view that captures the essence of being at his pond. The audience being reached in this work is vast. Those with a connection to or calling from nature, those who love the outdoors, or those who like the Asian style scenery are drawn to this piece of artwork.
Strategically placed vertical lines, blotches of paint, and heavy horizontal brush strokes create a texture adding to the beauty of this work. The lines in this painting, in addition to adding texture, display a sense a fragility to the build of the pond. Full use of rich blues and cool greens allow for the undertones of pink, yellow, and white to pop, adding to the intensity of each color and demonstrating a balance between the colors to be seen evenly, creating an illusion of physically being at the pond. The warm colors of pink and yellow in the bottom of the painting and the cooler blue colors at the top of the canvas also provide the perspective Monet was hoping to capture. Monet used the natural lighting of the sun to aid in capturing the exact time of day the painting was created. The build-up of paint on top of paint also creates a stimulated texture, or a sense of perspective, being thickest toward the bottom of the canvas and becoming thinner toward the top. The vertical perspective was unique for this series which made it stand out, catching attention and demanding a closer look to the water lilies and their reflection glistening in the water. A natural pattern is made by the “organic” shape of the lilies and the flowers on them.
Art and Critic states, “the trees, the luscious banks, and the water envelop a pocket of air, trapping it in the center along with the Japanese bridge. This bubble of air absorbs all the scents and colors, rendering the tropical atmosphere almost palpable,” suggesting that the painting appeals to all senses, for you can almost smell the flowers. The way the bridge seems to be curving in a circular way shows the angle at which the painting was created. The center of the painting is the foot bridge, being that it provides a break from the thick and dense trees in the landscape drawing focus to the deep blue of the bridge. “It seems that the mutability of water is inherently impressionistic: the ripples and the mirrored colors — all in continuous motion — suggest themselves naturally as subject matter for a style that strives to capture the passing and the momentary,” (Art and Critic). The flow and movement of the water with the reflections of the water lilies provide a realistic view of the scene. The breaks of calm water, untouched by the lilies, aid in the beautifully painted perspective reaching across the pond adding a foreground, middle-ground, and background, adding depth to the painting. The fuzziness or blurriness of the trees in the background make an aerial perspective, making them seem farther away on the canvas. Oil painting allows the artist to create a sense of depth, dimension, and heavy, smooth, realistic colors. Oil paint is even known for having a wide range of intense color.
The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool is a magnificent oil on canvas painting, it depicts an overwhelming scene of natural beauty beyond what a simple picture from a camera can capture. The cool and dark blues, light and heavy greens, and touches of white, pink, and yellow demonstrate the realistic world of nature and the colors found there. Heavy brushstrokes create a perspective and a sense of physically being at the pond observing the scenery. Monet created the Asian style footbridge pond and spent a great deal of time focusing on capturing the right view of his creation in his own backyard. His paintings of the footbridge over the years went from a version of naturalism to impressionism which is seen while glancing through his series of paintings. This piece shows a deep, meaningful, inner peace and comfort, which was developed by the scenery he had created. The uniquely crafted, brightly and heavily colored oil on canvas painting stood out like a sunflower in a field of daisies, amongst the rest of the works in the museum, that demanded the viewer to stare in awe at this masterpiece.