August Flower -the Gladioli – a Fave of Monet

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By Jill Brooke

As impressionist artist Claude Monet  said, “I perhaps owe it to flowers for having become a painter.” Not only an avid gardener, Monet who lived from 1840-1926 was mesmerized by floral compositions.

In fact, scholar John House wrote, “Monet’s explorations of this subject include some of the most lavish still-lifes produced by the Impressionist group and some of the most radical challenges to a long-standing still-life tradition”

Although known for his love of water lilies, he also was drawn to gladioli – the flower of August. Here are a few of the paintings he did from 1878-1880.

As the auction house, Christie’s pointed out in a recent sale, “Although the artist painted still-life only intermittently during his long career, his achievement in the genre has been widely recognized.

“In his garden at Vétheuil, where he lived from 1878 until 1881, the central path was lined by painted pots filled with tall stalks of red gladioli.”

The underbelly though of this time was that Monet was also struggling financially. As Christie’s shared, “his  still-life paintings, particularly the floral compositions, were readily saleable and yielded higher prices during this period than his landscapes.”

But fortunately, the paintings did sell. They remain treasures that are printed and framed in pictures in homes around the globe. They are also coveted works of art for auction and sale.

In his sumptuous flower paintings, says Christie’s, the drawing and color are carried along together with tremendous impetus. His love for flowers is unmistakable. The character, the quality of growth, and the specific rhythm of each bouquet are given their due.

“What I need most of all are flowers, always, always” Claude Monet said. We couldn’t agree more.