Thursday, 30 April 2015

Inside Claude Monet's House and The Japanese Foot Bridge, Giverny, France

I have blogged about my visits to Monet's house and garden, in the past, but I was only able to give you glimpses of the house exterior and much about the garden. Here is my first blog about Monet's Garden Paradise in the fall, and another link that featured my garden visit in the spring.

But this time - much to my surprise, I hit two jackpots! Now,   picture-taking of the interiors with out the use of the flash is allowed. And, what  perfect timing it is to see the Japanese foot bridge, abloom with draping wisteria vines.

Here's the tour I took while taking pictures.

The admission ticket is good for both the house and garden tours.

Claude Monet lived in this house for forty-three years 

Here are some excerpts from my previous blog - Monet's Garden Paradise:
"Giverny was restored through the efforts of Monet's son, Michel Monet, when he willed his  inherited property to the Academie des Beaux-Arts. Ten years in the making, after much of it had fallen into disrepair during World War II, the property was restored to its old glory when Gérald van der Kemp - the appointed curator of Giverny in 1977, with André Devillers, and Georges Truffaut - a distinguished gardener who was a constant, invited guest to the Monet residence - embarked on reconstructing the property. In 1980, Giverny was opened to the public. Funding for this project came, mostly, from American benefactors.

"The exterior of the house is a pink shade with green shutters - a color combination that was thought of by Monet, himself. These colors are now typical of the Mediterranean landscape. To the front of the house, he positioned plants next to the house by setting up a pergola for climbing roses to cover and other creeping vines, to make the house blend with the garden." This color scheme blends with the garden surroundings, as envisioned by Monet.

From the main entrance to the house, to the left - leading to the ante-room - is THE BLUE SITTING ROOM. The cement tiles on the floor were trendy at the time the house was built.
The first thing one will notice in Monet's home is the proliferation of Japanese art. He had a passion for Japanese woodblock prints which he collected for over thirty years, by some of the masters - Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro. Monet found the Japanese culture artistic, and it had a lasting influence in his art works. He had collected a total of 231 Japanese engravings, by the end of his life.

The wood blocks set the interior theme color for his house - blue and white.

It is said that his collection started when he had gone to a village grocery in Holland, and chanced upon them - they had come with some products that were imported from Japan, that were for sale in the village store.

 Replicas of some of Monet's paintings hang on the walls now.

 Going up the stairs to the second floor of the house...

All around his room, he hang paintings by his friends - Pisarro, Cezanne, Renoir, Manet, Sisley, Signac, to name a few. 
The pink door leads to a small, connecting room.
  A garden view to the left, from his bedroom window...
 and this is the front view.
 The connecting room: The pink door led to Madame Monet's bedroom, while the blue door led to his wash room.
Paintings by Cezanne, above the the door jamb and chest of drawers

The bamboo-motif furniture was in keeping with Japanese fashion.
The washroom
A print by Hiroshige Ultagawa (1797-1858)
La Plage de Futami dans la province d'Ise
(The Beach of Futami in the Province of Ise)

Camille-Leonie Doncieux began to work as a model in Paris, while in her teens. There she met Claude Monet, who was seven years her senior, as she posed for several of his paintings. She had also been the subject of other paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Édouard Manet.

The two - Camille and Claude - started a relationship which did not meet the approval of his family. Their's became a clandestine affair. Camille became his mistress while he was starting his career as a painter.

When she got pregnant with her first son, Monet left her alone to fend for herself. Monet went to stay with his aunt to save the monthly allowance he was receiving from his family, as he made it appear that he no longer had anything to do with Camille. It was not until the birth of Camille's son, Jean, when Monet returned to Paris, but only for a few days. Them he returned to his aunt in Sainte-Adresse, once again.

In 1886, Monet secretly reunited with Camille and their son in Paris. It was a hard life. They were thrown out for non-payment in the inn they were staying in, and to avoid the creditors they moved to a more affordable place - they ended up in Gloton, a small village by Bennecourt, in north-central France. They were finally married civilly, on June 28, 1870, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, with another painter - Gustave Courbet - as their witness.

Claude Monet avoided being drafted in the French army during the Franco Prussian war. Once again he left Camille and Jean and went to Le Havre, France, and thereafter, proceeded to England to visit his ailing father. With some money from his father, his family was reunited in England in 1870.

Their second son, Michel, was born in 1877 when Camille was already in poor health. She passed away on September 5, 1879. 

Alice was the wife of a business entrepreneur and art collector, Ernest Hoschedé. Ernest had given Monet an art commission for the Chateau Rottembourg. Rumors began to spin that it may have been at this time that Monet started an affair with Alice.

When Ernest went bankrupt in 1877, he and his family  - with the youngest child - Jean-Pierre (believed to have been fathered by Monet), moved into the house of Monet and Camille in Vétheuil. Ernest left for Paris and worked for Le Voltaire newspaper. From Vétheuil, the Monets subsequently moved to Poissy, then to Giverny, bringing along with them the Hoschedé family.  Monet, who used to live to do some work, soon realized that he was miserable without Alice. 

Ernest must have realized that there was something amiss going on that he demanded that Alice and her six children move to Paris, back with him, 1886. Even before the move to Poissy, Ernest had refused to pay for his share of the household expenses for his family. But, at this point, Alice decided not to go back with Ernest, and stayed with Monet.

After the death of Camille in 1879, Alice and Claude continued to live together between Poissy and Giverny.

While still married to her husband but living with Monet, Alice had announced to Le Galois newspaper in Paris in 1880, that she was the "charming wife" of Claude Monet. Thereafter, poor Ernest died in 1881 and Alice and Claude married in 1892.

It was Alice who ran the household at Giverny, after Camille  died, and took care of her own six children along with Monet's two other children. It is her added style - coming from an upper-middle class family, that is reflected in their Giverny home.



 Japanese art hanging on the sunny, bright walls
(The Entrance to the Cave of Enoshima in Sagami Province)

Blue and white dinnerware
 Other ceramic serve-ware pieces, while some were used for decorative purposes
The Pantry

Copper pots and pans

The blue and white theme is carried over in the ceramic tiles used in the kitchen, as well as in the furniture and wall colors.

 Stove top and oven, right next to the fireplace

 The lavabo - a big sink for all the washing done in the kitchen.
This is it for the house tour!

Now, I can't resist giving you a garden tour, all the way to the Japanese foot bridge.
 Benches in front of the house - 



This is the first time that I got to see the wisteria vines on the bridge,  in bloom. Still with a lot of unopened buds, imagine how this would look like in a week's time. The timing of the blooms seems to be delayed here, perhaps, because the big trees in the surroundings give partial shade to the vines.

The wisteria vines were planted by Monet.
Foot path to get to the other side of the pond
Another wisteria vine on the opposite side
This is the u-turn point leading to a small, crossing foot-bridge, 
to get to the other side of the pond.
The view of the Japanese bridge from the u-turn point.
The wisteria vine on the trellis
 A view of the crossing foot-bridge by the u-turn point
A path lined with blooming azaleas and Japanese maple trees leading back to the Japanese bridge
 Blooming lilac plant, right next to the bridge

 Back view of the vine on the bridge, 
with strings of flower buds maturing
Taken from atop a bench!

Seeing the wisteria vines in bloom on the Japanese bridge was the highlight of my garden tour. It was simply beautiful.

When you come to visit Giverny, I hope you get to see it all! It is a place of inspiration and meditation. And if the walls could talk, there would be many more stories to hear about this place!


  1. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos. My husband and,I were able to visit in 2005. These photos bring back many great memories. It is a lot to take in on one visit. I hope we can visit again . The French countryside is so charming.

    1. You are welcome . Go visit at a different season next time and you will get to see the different plants and flowers as the seasons change.

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  3. Beautiful photos and commentary!



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