For almost two decades Monet had given daily instructions to his gardener in order to construct a meticulous and unrivalled landscape where he could enjoy nature and crucially work to recreate it's infinite variations in his paintings.
Monet had planted the lilies in the ponds for which he became justly famous, but also the long flowerbeds we can see in Artist's Garden at Giverny. The painting has a formality that was not present in all of Monet's work during this stage of his life.
Where in his more well known paintings of the water lilies we have come to expect a certain chaos and an absence of structure, here we see the borders of the flowerbeds create a well defined sense of order. As the lines of lilacs stretch away from the viewer so we are drawn deeper into the heart of the work, towards the shadows that lie at the far end of the garden and the house just visible behind the canopy of trees.
The sense of order is a little surprising and invites us to recognise that although Monet was clearly hugely fond of nature in all its chaotic and wild beauty, he perhaps also had some desire to bring it under control and to make it bend to his own will.
Indeed Monet suffered so many personal tragedies during his life, including the death of his mother when he was only sixteen years old and of his beloved wife Camille who died of cancer in her early thirties, one might imagine that control of this vast garden might have been a sublimated desire to exert control over nature itself.
Perhaps the most striking feature of Artist's Garden at Giverny however is the extraordinary use of colour. While the deep purples of the lilacs dominate the canvas, we can see reds, golds, blues and browns spread across the work, merging into each other with a mastery that few other painters of his era could rival.
There is no mistaking what we are looking at in the painting, but at the same time this is a truly great example of what made impressionism such a ground-breaking movement at the turn of the century. The vibrancy that Monet creates through his bold use of colour and the confident brush work is such that we feel we can not only see the garden exactly as Monet saw it but that we can also hear the bees buzzing as they gather pollen and smell the rich floral scent of the lush carpet of flowers.
The beating heart of the impressionist movement was about creating a work of art that spoke to all the senses, that transported the viewer to the point in time that the artist was experiencing, and in Artist's Garden at Giverny Monet has achieved this as successfully as in any of his works.
As we stand and gaze into the depths of this beautiful rural idyll in northern France we can feel the warm sun on our face and drink in the stunning visual landscape that Monet created and wanted to share with the world.