The Water Lilies: The Two Willows

Les Nymphéas : Les Deux Saules

"8 July 1927 – At the Orangerie, inside two large oval rooms, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. Mirrors of water on which the Water Lilies float throughout the day – morning, afternoon, evening and night. Claude Monet, at the end of his long life, after having studied all the different motifs that nature creates with colour effects in reply to light, has addressed the most docile, the most penetrable element — water — which is at the same time transparent, iridescent, and reflective. Thanks to water, he has become the painter of what we cannot see. He addresses that invisible spiritual surface that separates light from reflection. Airy azure captive of liquid azure. The surface defined only by flowers, corollas of leaves and petals, vegetal emanations rising from the depths, bubbles, opened eggs. The paintings are fixed in long concave bands that envelop you; you can see them in front of you and at both sides simultaneously. The light whipped into blue, the chemistry of the water. There is the same passion for colour in Claude Monet as in the craftsmen who made the stained glass for our cathedrals. Colour rises from the bottom of the water in clouds, in whirlpools."

Paul Claudel, Journal, 1904-1932, Paris, Editions Gallimard, 1968, T.I., p. 778