Claude Monet’s ‘The Water-Lily Pond’ at York Art Gallery

An iconic painting by celebrated Impressionist artist Claude Monet is set to grace the region as part of the National Treasures Bicentenary celebration.

The 1899 masterpiece, ‘The Water-Lily Pond’, will be showcased at York Art Gallery, offering a rare opportunity for locals to revel in one of the world’s most famous artworks.

The gallery is one of 12 venues taking part in National Treasures, a project marking 200 years of the National Gallery’s existence.

Painted by one of the founders of the Impressionist movement, Claude Monet (1840-1926), ‘The Water-Lily Pond’ will be the centrepiece of the York Art Gallery exhibition which will bring together key loans from regional and national institutions alongside collection works, and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan. 

The Northern Echo: Claude Monet's 1899 masterpiece, 'The Water-Lily Pond' will form the centrepiece of the York

The story behind the painting starts in 1893 when Monet, one of the founders of the Impressionist movement, bought a plot of land next to his house in Giverny, France.

He had already planted a colourful flower garden, but now he wanted to create a water garden “both for the pleasure of the eye and for the purpose of having subjects to paint”.

He enlarged the existing pond, filling it with exotic new hybrid water lilies, and built a humpback at one end, inspired by examples seen in Japanese prints.

The water garden became the main obsession of Monet’s later career and The National Gallery’s 1899 ‘The Water-Lily Pond’ painting was amongst his earlier canvases on this theme.

Dr Beatrice Bertram, Senior Curator at York Art Gallery, said “We are delighted to be hosting this beautiful and much-loved painting by Monet as part of the National Gallery’s Bicentenary events.

“Taking our cue from the artist’s lush canvas, our exhibition will explore open-air painting, celebrate the enjoyment of nature, landscapes and gardens, and connect indoor and outdoor spaces.

“In the gallery, Monet will be joined by works from our own collection, key loans from national and regional museums, and a vibrant new commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan.

The Northern Echo: A large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan also forms part of the exhibitionA large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan also forms part of the exhibition (Image: YORK MUSEUMS TRUST)

“In the gardens nearby, Monet has inspired us to plant a wildflower meadow, and we’ll be encouraging audiences to get creative and engage in open-air sketching.”

National Treasures is a key strand of the National Gallery’s programme celebrating its bicentenary.

Alexandra Kavanagh, head of National Touring Exhibitions at the National Gallery, said: “We’re delighted to be working with such a dynamic partner with a brilliant collection of their own in York Art Gallery.

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“The new contexts in which visitors will get to see ‘The Water-Lily Pond’, thanks to contemporary response and the context of a museum garden, is exactly what we hoped National Treasures would help to spark as a programme.” 

The exhibition at York Art Gallery is supported by wealth management company JM Finn and Little Greene Paint Company as the official paint partner. 

National Gallery’s National Treasures Monet in York: ‘The Water-Lily Pond’ (1899) will be on display at York Art Gallery from May 10 to September 8.

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