The Joy of Museums

Exploring Museums, Art & Historic Sites

“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet

Claude Monet - Water Lilies, 1917-1919

“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet portrays a water-lily pond, from Monet’s garden in Giverny, with the sky, clouds and light reflecting on the lily pond. Monet attempted to capture the continually changing qualities of light, colour, water, sky and lilies by dissolving all the elements in what he expressed as:

“the refuge of a peaceful meditation in the centre of a flowering aquarium.”

Claude Monet painted nearly 250 painting in his series of “Water Lilies”.  The paintings depict Monet’s flower garden at his home in Giverny which was the primary focus of Monet’s artistic endeavours during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the later works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.

This painting belongs to the last of three series of works depicting the play of light on the pond. With loose, curving lines and tightly knitted strokes of colour, Monet captured the moment in time in the life of the everchanging reflective body of water. His “Water Lilies” paintings can be found in many museums across the globe.

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the term “Impressionism” is derived from the title of his painting Impression, “soleil levant” or “Impression, Sunrise”, which was exhibited in 1874. Monet adopted a method of painting in which he painted the same scene many times to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. Monet is known for having produced a series of paintings all versions of the same subject and perspective. Examples include his series of the “Valley of the Creuse” series and his famous series of “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies” paintings.

From 1883 Monet moved to Giverny, a small village on the Seine River about forty miles west of Paris. He bought a home in Giverny where he developed a garden landscape which included the lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, firstly with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings, with the water lilies as the main feature. This series occupied him for the last 20 years of his life.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:               Water Lilies
  • Artist:             Claude Monet
  • Year:               1917/19
  • Medium:        Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:  39 1/4 x 79 1/8 in. (99.7 x 201 cm)
  • Museum:        Honolulu Museum of Art

Artist Essential Facts:


“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet



Photo Credit: 1) Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons