Monet's garden in Normandy was a private haven where domestic pleasure, artistic vision and aesthetic delight converged. Although he modestly told his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, that he gardened 'so that there would be flowers to paint on rainy days', Monet cultivated his garden as a continual source of renewal and creativity. It became as powerful a passion in his life as hs painting - he chose planting schemes as carefully as he chose colours for his palette. The garden was also the inspiration for his art and the subject of some of his greatest paintings. In the paintings of his gardens, from the suburban flower-beds of his first family homes to the grand fantasy of his water lily pond at Giverny, Monet achieved his most personal and passionate expression.
DEBRA N. MANCOFF is an art historian and the author of more than twenty books on European and American art and culture. She lectures regularly at many of the major museums in the United States and Great Britain. Based in Chicago, she is a Scholar-in-Residence at the Newberry Library.