Claude Monets Symbols of Industrialization in the Water Lilies
Claude Monet is a widely known French artist of Impressionism, as well as one of the most prolific and consistent practitioners of the philosophy of expressing humans perceptions of nature. He was revolutionary in his paintings, and one of his most extraordinary paintings is Water Lilies, 1905. This particular artwork was chosen for an analysis and research due to its magnificence and popularity among the contemporary scholars. It was also chosen because it is particularly difficult to analyze. As a matter of fact, the masterpiece was painted during the Industrial Revolution, thus, one might presume that the ideas and motifs of the industrialization can be drawn from the painting. Therefore, this paper seeks to discuss how the elements of this particular painting respond to the time of the Industrial Revolution and how the ideas of industrialization are depicted in the painting.
At the beginning of 1903, Monet highly embarked on a number of canvases which depicted his water garden. When Monet was painting the Water Lilies, he spent much time in the French countryside in Giverny and in its surrounding gardens (Callen 89).
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When looking at the picture, one can see the pads of lilies floating on the ponds surface. The pattern of dark and light beneath the lilies depicts the reflection on the water of the pond the sky and trees on a distant bank. It is obviously seen that the time of the day depicted at the artwork is twilight or early sunrise, when it is quite dark. The grey shadows dominate the picture, and make it look rather gothic. Main colors used in the painting are purple, violet, dark-green, and grey.
From the first sight, in this painting Monet no longer depicts the modern and industrial subject matters, and purely focuses on landscape motifs. However, of his later works, this Monets painting is the most obvious example of his view of the conventions of the 19th century landscape. In his depiction of this new visual form of expression, Monet subverted and overturned the established the 19th century conventions, by finding a different stylistic and visual language, and also by rejecting traditional artistic values.
Monet depicted a transition from day to night, from sunlight to darkness, but it is still unknown, which time of the day will come day or night. This truly refers to the period of transition in France, and the Industrial Revolution as a whole. The Revolution brought many social and economic changes, which could both be characterized as a transition from backwardness to prosperity of the industrial society, and a shift from morality to marginalized society. This uncertainty and lack of confidence in the future is very well reflected in the overall mood of the painting. Moreover, this picture shows the change, which also took part in the society of the French (Tucker 156).
Not only did Monet capture the visible and bright surface of the water, but he also depicted its luminous depths. As a matter of fact, the massive grey shadows on the water demonstrate the industrial factories, which polluted the environment with smog. However, even in the shadows, lilies still did not lose their beauty. One could notice that the upper side of the picture is darker and might symbolize the industrialized Northern France, while the lower side is brighter and more beautiful, which might symbolize the Southern France with its mild climate (Nord 120).
Monet on this picture, like in most pictures of lilies, depicted endless water, without any banks and horizon, where the universe is not stable and even visible. This could be compared to increase in knowledge during the Industrialization period. People realized that there is a lot of facts and information they did not know, and the more they learned about the world, the more mysterious it became. The visible picture of the water is only a small part of the pond or lake, and no one knows how deep or big it is.
As a matter of fact, it was in nature that the artist discovered the way to be true both to his increasing dissatisfaction with modern industrialized life and a modernist commitment to change. Certainly, he had noticed the negative side of the industrial growth that affected people and transformed natural oases into the suburban areas. Therefore, in this painting Monet served notions of unending change and transformation, as well as regeneration without any support for the idea of progress. He could probably become isolated, but he still remained a part of nature. This could be his main message of the painting to decrease the pace and to go back to nature (Tucker 177).
Therefore, the particular composition of the painting corresponds to the time of its creation, and each element contains a hidden idea which is particular to the end of the Industrial Revolution, and the dual perception of the industrial changes.
Having analyzed the hidden motifs and ideas of the Water Lilies by Claude Monet, and having discussed its relation to the period of the Industrial Revolution, one has come to the conclusion that the painting depicts transformation and change of the industrial society, disappointment and discontentment of people, and their desire to return to nature. Moreover, the picture symbolized the transitional period of society, the time of changes and their dual perception. Beyond all doubts, this painting is an extraordinary artwork of Impressionism, which proves the immense talent and sensitivity of the artist.