This painting reminds me of my childhood: Monet’s Water Lily Pond

“The Water Lily Pond” is an 1899 work by the impressionist painter, Claude Monet. It comprises background trees, a weeping willow, a bridge and a pond that is completely covered in vegetation and lilies. The background behind the bridge is also shielded by vegetation, and I adore the almost ethereal, fairy-like nature setting. The water lilies are painted in gorgeous pastel colours, with a teal green used for the vegetation.

It forms part of a series of almost 250 oil paintings that Monet composed depicting his flower garden at his home in Giverny. He described how he had originally planted the water lilies for fun, with no intentions of painting them. However, once they established themselves, they became practically his singular source of inspiration.

This painting just exudes calm and serenity. Although, in a complete juxtaposition, this painting reminds me of my childhood because of school trips to the National Gallery in London’s Trafalgar square, which, with teachers trying to cajole 70 overexcited children, were anything but serene.

I must have been about 6 or 7 when I stumbled upon it and was utterly mesmerised by how beautiful it was. I can also remember very vividly being scolded by my teacher for trying to touch it. Scurrying away in fear, I returned shortly after and spent half an hour gazing at it, taking in all the different colours.

The next day at school in our art lesson, we all had a chance to try to paint one of the paintings we had seen the previous day. I, of course, chose the one that had had such a profound impact on me, and carried it home with such joy. It remained in pride of place on the fridge for a few years, and when I look at the painting now I’m always transported back to a simpler, carefree time.

Monet has remained one of my favourite painters because of my introduction to him at such a young age, and I was lucky enough to get to visit The Albertina museum in Vienna in 2019, which has over 100 of his delicate, intricate, and elegant paintings on display.

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Anastasia Christodoulou

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September 2021
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