What do you see when you first look at this painting?
A bright sunny day, in a beautiful warm garden - filled with sunflowers and other beautiful blossoms? It a beautifully expressive piece; very cheerful, bright, and hopeful. However, upon closer inspection of the paintings description there lies the struggles of a talented artist with none other than the woes of life.
Back in 1881, Claude Monet painted this beautiful and whimsical landscape portrait of his garden after a string of unfortunate events in his life finally subsided. In the time leading up to the painting of this piece one of Monet's major collectors went bankrupt and had to sell 16 of Monet's works at extremely low prices, driving the value of Monet's painting into the ground. A year after the decline of his works value, while sharing a small home with a friend's family of eight, and his family of four, Monet's wife died from complications during childbirth to their second son. Sad, but true.
However, by the time Monet worked on this piece things had turned around in his life. Like the clouds in his painting drifting out of the bright blue sky, life got brighter for Monet as the clouds of misfortune cleared away. The market for his paintings stabilized, apparently along with his personal life.
A painting is worth a thousand words... and this one, like many others at the Norton Simon's Museum in Pasadena, are drenched in back story. At first glance it's just a beautiful landscape of a beautiful garden... though upon closer inspection, it's a painting of hope, new beginnings, and maybe some much needed calm and beauty after a stormy period in the artist's life. This is all exquisitely expressed in vivid broad strokes of blues, violets, creams and whites portraying the sky, house, and garden path. Meanwhile, energetic bursts of greens, reds, and yellows illustrate abundant green foliage and radiant sunflowers in full bloom.
What this painting says to me is life, no matter how crazy it gets, can and will become beautiful again. The clouds pass, the flowers bloom, and there is always hope for a change for the better.
P.S. - You should make a trip over to Pasadena and check out this awesome museum. It has so many beautiful pieces, and beautiful grounds as well.
Check out their website at: http://www.nortonsimon.org.