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Can you tell what painting this is?  It’s a close up image/detail of Claude Monet’s water lilies at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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Monet spent the last thirty years of his life painting the lily pond at his home in Giverny, a small town on the river Seine, just north of Paris. While his initial exploration of the water lily theme (1902-8) produced smaller works more descriptive of a garden setting, the later paintings focus on the water’s shimmering surface, indicating the surrounding trees and lush bank only through reflections. Here reflection and reality merge in strokes of blue, violet, and green. Fronds of water plants sway underwater and passing clouds are reflected above.  By 1915 Monet had conceived a plan, called his Grande Décoration, for arranging a series of monumental water lily paintings in an oval room, thus creating a continuous panorama that would surround and enclose the viewer in an environment of pure color. That installation is located in two oval rooms in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. Cleveland’s painting is the left panel of a three-part variation on this water lily theme. Its companions are now in the St. Louis Art Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.  I have had the opportunity to see two of the three paintings in Cleveland and Kansas City.

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