Lily at Giverny

In 2006 I had been studying oil painting and I was inspired to paint this little girl in a garden. I found wonderful models of what I was looking for in an old copy of Victoria Magazine. As I began to paint the composition I noticed that it took on a life of it's own. I started noticing how much the garden was taking on characteristics of Giverny. Giverny, a place I long to visit some day. Claude Monet is my favorite painter, and I can never read enough or visit his paintings in museums or in books to satisfy my hunger to know more. When I was painting the color of the cottage, in the background I wanted to make the shutters the same color as those of Monet's house in Giverny. I wanted the green in the shutters to accent the white linen table cloth on top of the table laid for tea. I have many books on his work in my library. I decided to do some research to make the details more authentic.

I took out my books on Monet, and I was fascinated when I stumbled on a photograph in one of the books with Monet standing on the famous green bridge with a little girl named Lily. Monet did a painting of Lily, as a young woman, reading a book. I added a book to this little girl's lap, since she must have loved to read, if Monet captured that detail. My curiousity led me to study even further into the life of Monet. I started to add details to my painting to reflect the gardens of Monet. When Monet and his large family entertained at Giverny they set the garden tables outside with white linen tablecloths. They were laid on green garden tables with green garden chairs. I was so taken with the history of Lily that I named the painting after her. I changed the original white chair and table in my painting to reflect the similar green garden furniture that Monet used in his garden. I also studied photographs from books dipicting many of the female visitors and family members wearing lovely hats and beautiful white summer frocks. So, I added a hat for Lily and hung it from her chair, and tried to render her frock with a bit more frills.

Lily was the daughter of Theodore Earl Butler who spent many summers in Giverny. He was friends with Claude Monet. Theodore Butler married Monet’s stepdaughter, named Suzanne Hoschede. Their wedding was made famous by the painting called The Wedding March by Theodore Robinson. When Lily grew up she became a fashion designer for Harpers Bazaar.

As I conducted some more research, I learned that Lily had a son, named Jean-Marie Toulgouat. I read an article on the Internet and learned that he coincidently had just passed away just days earlier. He had died at the age of 78 in Giverny, in the house where he had been born. He had spent his childhood years in that house. He was a wonderful painter and had been taught to paint by Monet’s step daughter Blanche Hoschede'.

Jean-Marie Toulgouat married Claire Joyes, an art historian. Together they lectured on Monet. Claire Joyes wrote MONET AT GIVERNY in 1975 and LIFE AT GIVERNY in 1985. As I looked at the book I had been studying to complete the details in the painting, I noticed that I was using one of her books. I had both books and another book of hers called MONET'S TABLE in my library but I had never known the history behind these beautiful books.

As I finished the painting of Lily in Giverny, I became very fond of her and the history of her life. Whenever, I look at this painting now I don’t just see it as a painting of a little girl, but her connection to my favorite artist, Claude Monet. Her history of being at Giverny with Monet and the loyalty of her son and his wife to have carried on the history of Monet fascinated me...To write such beautiful books and to dedicate the time to lecture on the life of Monet is noteworthy. Jean-Marie Toulgouat was a wonderful and well known painter in his own right. I found a fun site where Claire Joyes appeared on a cooking show cooking a dish from her book MONET'S TABLE, there are even recipes for one of Monet's favorite MENUS.

So, perhaps you would like to prepare a dish from this French menu by Claire Joyes as you plan on reading more about the wonderful life of Claude Monet. As you are serenaded by With a Song In My Heart, pour a glass of red wine, preferably French, plan on reading these wonderful recipes and pretend you are sitting in Monet's yellow kitchen in the gardens of Giverny.

Welsh Rarebit
Broiled Steak with Mustard
Stuffed Tomatoes
Bananas in Red Wine
and recommendtions for the perfect table setting, music and backdrop to reflect Monet's table.

The song for this post is With A Song In My heart

In case you are saying to yourself "where have I heard that music before?"...1952 movie of the same name starring none other than Susan Hayward. I rate this oldie a two box of kleenex movie.
Ariane said...

Hello from Giverny!
I love your story and the way this painting lives its own life!
Lily Butler has always a dreamy look on the pictures taken with Monet.
If you want to see pictures of Giverny, you will find many on my blog Giverny News.
Warmest regards

KarenHarveyCox said...

Ariane, Giverny News is gorgeous. Thank you for giving me that link. I am going to add it to my favorite links. What a beautiful place!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments about Monet and Jean- Marie Toulgouat. I have been following Jean-Marie for several years after I discovered my mother has purchased two of early works in Florida years ago. In trying to research the paintings on the internet, I learned about him and his work to preserve and restore Giverny. I now have these and cherish them. I am also an artist and identify with Monet's work very strongly.
Even though this post is not recent, I very much enjoyed reading it. I am re-reading Monets Table. I just love that book.
I am going to add your blog to my favorites.
Debbie S. in Maine

a woman who is said...

Okay I don't know how I exactly found this post through your pink Saturday. But I am very glad I did! I have been to Giverny and love Monet's work. I am going to look up some of the books you mentioned. The painting is lovely by the way.