Water Lilies

Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny)
Oil on canvas
51 1/4 x 79 in. (130.2 x 200.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Louise Reinhardt Smith, 1983
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 819
As part of his extensive gardening plans at Giverny, Monet had a pond dug and planted with lilies in 1893. From 1899 on, he repeatedly turned to the subject, attempting to capture every observation, impression, and reflection of the flowers and water. By the time he began this work in the late teens, Monet had achieved a completely new, fluid, and somewhat audacious style of painting in which the water-lily pond became the point of departure for an almost abstract art.
Michel Monet, Giverny (until after 1960; sold to Granoff or Callez); [?Katia Granoff, Paris and/or Meric Callez Gallery, New York, after 1960–1963]; Louise Reinhardt Smith, New York (by 1963–95)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 12–September 2, 1963, no. 49 (lent by Mrs. Bertram Smith).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Summer Loan Exhibition: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from Private Collections," July 8–September 6, 1966, no. 121 (lent by Mrs. Bertram Smith).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "New York Collects," July 3–September 2, 1968, no. 125 (lent by Mrs. Bertram Smith).

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Masterworks from The Louise Reinhardt Smith Collection," May 4–August 22, 1995, unnumbered cat. (as "Water Lilies with Reflection of a Willow Tree").

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Monet in the 20th Century," September 20–December 27, 1998, no. 65 (as "Water Lilies, Reflections of Weeping Willows").

Paris. Musée National de l'Orangerie. "Monet: Le cycle des Nymphéas," May 6–August 2, 1999, no. 40.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, unnumbered cat. (as "Reflections, the Water Lily Pond at Giverny").

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings," March 17–June 10, 2007, unnumbered cat. (fig. 265).

Williamstown, Mass. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. "The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings," June 24–September 16, 2007, unnumbered cat. (fig. 265).

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Monet's Water Lilies," September 13, 2009–April 12, 2010, unnumbered cat. (fig. 20) [withdrawn from the exhibition in February 2010].

Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "Monet y la Abstracción," February 23–May 30, 2010, no. 24.

Stockholm. Moderna Museet. "Turner, Monet, Twombly: Sent måleri," October 8, 2011–January 15, 2012, no. 69.

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. "Turner, Monet, Twombly: Later Paintings," February 11–May 28, 2012, no. 69.

Tate Liverpool. "Turner, Monet, Twombly: Later Paintings," June 22–October 28, 2012, no. 69.

Robert Maillard in Denis Rouart and Jean-Dominique Rey. Monet, Water-Lilies: Or the Mirror of Time. New York, 1974, ill. p. 188 [French ed., 1972], as "Water Lilies, Reflections of the Willow".

Gary Tinterow in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1983–1984. New York, 1984, p. 67, ill. (color), states that it was "begun by Monet sometime in the late teens and kept in his studio until his death, [and] is one of the most complete and confidently executed pictures of the late series".

Daniel Wildenstein. Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné. Vol. 4, 1899–1926: Peintures. Lausanne, 1985, pp. 276–77, no. 1858, ill., states that it once belonged to Michel Monet, the artist's son.

Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 37, colorpl. 22.

Steven Z. Levine. Monet, Narcissus, and Self-Reflection: The Modernist Myth of the Self. Chicago, 1994, p. 265.

Kadee Robbins in Masterworks from the Louise Reinhardt Smith Collection. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1995, pp. 30, 85, ill. p. 31 (color), includes it in the group of late paintings of water lilies, dating between 1914 and the artist's death, calling it part of a series "dedicated to the reflection of a willow tree, demonstrating the increasing dominance of the water".

J. Kirk T. Varnedoe in Masterworks from the Louise Reinhardt Smith Collection. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1995, p. 17.

Daniel Wildenstein. Monet. Vol. 4, Catalogue raisonné–Werkverzeichnis: Nos. 1596–1983 et les grandes décorations. 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 881, no. 1858, ill. (color).

George T. M. Shackelford and Mary Anne Stevens in Monet in the 20th Century. Ed. Paul Hayes Tucker and Mary Anne Stevens. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1998, pp. 192, 218, 283, no. 65, ill. (color), as "Water Lilies, Reflections of Weeping Willows"; dates it 1916–19.

Pierre Georgel. Monet: Le cycle des "Nymphéas," catalogue sommaire. Exh. cat., Musée National de l'Orangerie. Paris, 1999, pp. 42, 57, no. 40, ill. (color), dates it about 1915–19.

Karin Sagner-Düchting in Monet and Modernism. Ed. Karin Sagner-Düchting. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung. Munich, 2001, p. 69, ill. p. 94 (color).

Richard Kendall in James A. Ganz and Richard Kendall. The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. Williamstown, Mass., 2007, pp. 242, 263, 265, 302, fig. 265 (color), dates it about 1918; links it to a sketchbook drawing depicting "Monet's graphic shorthand for lilypads" (sketchbook 6, fol. 8v, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris; D347).

Eric M. Zafran in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, p. 140.

Ann Temkin and Nora Lawrence. Claude Monet: Water Lilies. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2009, p. 25, fig. 20 (color), date it 1914–26; note that this is one of the paintings reserved in June 1956 by Alfred Barr, for Museum of Modern Art trustees and donors, at Katia Granoff's gallery, Paris.

Paloma Alarcó. Monet y la Abstracción. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2010, pp. 29, 302, 322, ill. p. 117 (color), dates it 1916–19.

Jeremy Lewison. Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings. Exh. cat., Moderna Museet. Stockholm, 2011, p. 260, no. 69, ill. pp. 222–23 (color).

Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, pp. 10, 522, no. 439, ill. pp. 471, 522 (color).

In 1893, Monet had a lily pond dug and planted at his house in Giverny. Beginning in 1899, and continuing for the rest of his life, paintings of this pond were the dominant theme of Monet's art. This painting illustrates the fluid, nearly abstract style the artist developed through these water lily paintings.