Rare Film Footage of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet

We’ve all seen their works in fixed form, enshrined in museums and printed in books. But there’s something special about watching a great artist at work.  This is the only known film footage of the French Impressionist Claude Monet, made when he was 74 years old, painting alongside a lily pond in his garden at Giverny.



The footage was shot in the summer of 1915 by the French actor and dramatist Sacha Guitry for his patriotic World War I-era film Ceux de Chez Nous, or “Those of Our Land.” It was shot in the summer of 1915, when Monet was 74 years old. It was not the best time in Monet’s life. His second wife and eldest son had both died in the previous few years, and his eyesight was getting progressively worse due to cataracts. But despite the emotional and physical setbacks, Monet would soon rebound, making the last decade of his life (he died in 1926 at the age of 86) an extremely productive period in which he painted many of his most famous studies of water lilies.

At the beginning of the film clip we see Guitry and Monet talking with each other. Then Monet paints on a large canvas beside a lily pond. It’s a shame the camera doesn’t show the painting Monet is working on, but it’s fascinating to see the great artist all clad in white, a cigarette dangling from his lips, painting in his lovely garden.

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