Photos: Fernando Grilli


Vitamine A: Nature, infinite inspiration, by Ricardo Fernandes

In 1856, when Claude Monet was introduced to the painter Eugène Boudin, the two became great friends. Boudin, who only worked outdoors, invited Monet to leave his atelier, to teach him some painting techniques inspired by nature.

Claude Monet quickly fell in love with the outdoors painting and decided that he would leave the path of the traditional arts. In love with nature, he started his own garden as soon as he moved from Paris to Giverny in 1883. He rented a house on a large plot of 8,100m2 where he could raise his 8 children, staying close to a good children’s school and Paris, where all his works were traded. The small Giverny, a bucolic village, at that time with 300 inhabitants and about 70 km from the French capital, very impressed Claude Monet. Nature, flowers and light, played to reveal and hide colors, tones and aromas, fascinating the artist and creating the beginning of a relationship of complicity, emotion and art.

With the success and prosperity of its sales, in 1890, Monet bought the land and was slowly also acquiring some lands around its property, creating a natural paradise, with a team of 10 gardeners and 3 drivers.


In Giverny, Monet planted numerous species of flowers, ornamental plants and fruit trees, creating two gardens at once and letting nature dictate the beauty and visual aesthetics of the place. At the end of his life, the artist had planted more than 180,000 different species of flowers and plants. The species coexisted in a unique harmony: Rare Japanese bamboos, apple trees, azaleas, raspberries, irises, tulips, roses, lemon trees, Chinese roses, myosotis, dahlias, sunflowers, lily flowers, hortensias in their varied colors, each with flowering in a specific and planned date, making the garden beautiful and flowery all day of the year.


“When he was away from home, he missed his wife, his eight children, his atelier, his two gardens, and especially his flowers. Claude Monet always had a cold bath and a reinforced coffee in the company of one of his children, before beginning his day of work. After having breakfast, he would open the kitchen door and go out to work in his gardens, where everything breathed and had life and where time stopped, “says Claire Joyes, wife of Claude Monet’s great-grandson and writer of the main biographies of the artist.

Gilbert Vahé, head of Monet’s garden since its restoration in 1977, tells us that Claude Monet always felt like a landscaper and liked to present himself as such. He used every moment, every difference, every contrast of light, colors and flowering, to perfectly portray his gardens in his works.

Only from the Water Garden, Monet painted more than 272 cataloged works, during twenty years of work. Its Japanese bridge was portrayed by him 45 times, with various lights and natural scenery, in extreme beauty. A lover of the colors of the sea and of the waters, Monet said that each moment corresponded to a relation of nature to light, to the shadows and to the reflections of plants in the water, for in Monet’s gardens there was no room for monotony.


Also, the residence, revealed in its multicolored walls the same floral tones. Monet chose the furniture, the fabrics for each room and personally managed every detail. “Even as the gardens, the main areas of his home, Monet loved the kitchen and the dining room, where he liked to receive his friends, always keeping them close,” explains Claire Joyes.

Clemanceau, Mebeau, Cézane, Rodin, Truffaut and several other names of the arts and politics were friends and regulars of the residence, where the artist prepared in his large and modern blue kitchen, English dishes that he loved so much. The yellow dining-room was also meticulously decorated, for dinners and parties, exclusive to friends. After meals, a stroll through the gardens: The Clos Normand Garden, with its geometric flowerbeds and in front of the main door of the residence. The Water Garden, on the other side of the railway, at the back of the land, with its flower beds, curves and lakes, created by the artist and which revealed an extreme sensuality from nature. Such walks always gave visitors the feeling of penetrating into Monet’s works and more, within the intimacy of the artist with nature. Monet was very much in discussion with his friend Georges Truffaut, the famous French landscaper, the structure of the gardens. Despite always saying that he had no species of his own, water lilies, irises and herbaceous plants are considered the artist’s favorite species throughout his life and those he most portrayed in his works.


The artists of the 21st Century, seek through the use of technology, ways to get out of the common point and present novelties to the market. The best inspiration, however, comes from methods and not from results. Studying the actions, experiences and technical developments of what has been produced in the past is a great way to find inspirations that deplete the results and open contemporary artists the door of infinite creativity.

Nature, however, remains, as an infinite source of inspiration, through its mathematically endless essence, through its colors still to be revealed and its constant evolutionary power.

Through nature, artists like Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Marc Quinn, Beatriz Milhazes and so many others have been inspired and inspired by constant development.


In summer, when nature shows its beauties and incessant results, contemporary artists observe and get ready to enjoy that which is the historical, evolutionary and infinite source of artistic creation.


Ricardo Fernandes, 2019
The Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC), New York, United States of America
Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art (AICA), Paris, France
Association for Art History (AAH), London, United Kingdom