Before Giverny there was Argenteuil.
Whenever I think of Claude Monet, I visualize him in his gardens at Giverny. But there was another garden that is pivotal to his narrative and the narrative of Impressionism.
In 1874, Claude Monet signed a six-and-a half year lease on a house at Argenteuil, which is located on the Seine near Paris. He moved his family into a newly built, rose-coloured house with green shutters. Could it be that this was a foreshadowing of the green shutters at Giverny?
The house and garden became an overarching motif of his years in Argenteuil. Claude Monet painted fifteen paintings of this garden.
The same year he moved to Argenteuil (1874), Claude Monet was involved in organizing an exhibition of the Impressionists’ work. It was at that exhibition that his painting, Sunrise (1872), was exhibited , inspiring the journalist, Louis Leroy, to bestow the name that we all know and love, “Impressionism.”
Rounded Flower Bed, now ensconced in the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, is one of the fifteen painting of his Argenteuil Garden.
Monet's garden at Argenteuil near Paris provided the subject matter for this painting: a flower bed of tall gladioli shimmering in the light. The figure standing under an umbrella is the artist's wife, Camille, enjoying a leisurely stroll. Rather than being the focal point of the painting, she is merely a figure used to define the space. The flower bed itself dominates the composition. Using thick, short brushstrokes that appear as dabs at close range but synthesize at a distance, and juxtaposing red and pink blossoms against green foliage, Monet simulates the shimmering visual sensations experienced on a hot summer day. Detroit Institute of Arts