With so much of Monet's career dispersed thinly throughout global art galleries and museums, one would rightly assume that some of his best work would have ended up at MoMA, which itself is one of the most significant galleries in the world. The assumption would prove to be correct, with Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond being a notable example of that. This huge mural comes in three panels which generally will be displayed together, just as the artist had intended. The reason for separating this painting into three would have been a purely logistical decision, with the total size measuring an eye watering 12 metres in total.
The panels are dated at around 1920, with Monet himself working on this theme across a number of decades, in between other projects. Some of these murals were so large that he would not have been able to just work on them exclusively, requiring a break from time to time in order to freshen his mind and also to continually take an overall consideration of how the composition was progressing. This has been the case with large artworks ever since the Renaissance, with Michelangelo covering several different projects whilst completing the Sistine Chapel, for example, and employing assistants to work under his direction in order to keep all artworks progressing at the same time. Whilst Monet would not call on assistants, he did like to spread himself across different tasks to avoid reaching a stale level of creativity.
By the time of this painting, the artist had already been living at this property in Giverny for over three decades and by now had everything just as he wanted. The lily pond was constructed on land that was purchased separately, adjoining the initial garden that came with the house. He made use of both parts of land for different effects and also enjoyed being green-fingered himself. It is hard to imagine someone going to such lengths just for his art, without already having a passion for gardening, and the Impressionist movement itself featured a number of other artists who enjoyed elements of horticulture within their own gardens.