20th Century Art: Claude Monet’s “Weeping Willow” Paintings (1918 – 1919)

From the Wall Street Journal (June 19, 2020):

Claude_Monet,_Water-Lily_Pond_and_Weeping_Willow…what perhaps absorbed him most was a suite of 10 paintings of one of the weeping willows he had planted on the shores of his pond in 1893, when he had purchased the property to construct his aquatic paradise. The tree had grown in girth and grandeur over the intervening years, its leafy arms now extending out over the dappled waters like an impassioned conductor energizing an orchestra.

The trees in Monet’s water garden are much less known than the flowers, but they were central to his vision of what that ideal space should include and thus dear to his heart. In 1912, when severe winds and rains wreaked havoc on his horticultural handiwork, what Monet mourned most was the damage to his willows.

Weeping willows, of course, evoke mourning by their very appearance no less than by their appellation, their drooping tendrils the very symbol of sorrow. It’s therefore not surprising, given Monet’s sensitivity to his nation’s plight, that he turned to this tree to express the trauma of the moment.

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