Artists Blog


Ray Johnstone

Monet’s water lilies, as everyone is aware, have been done to death. They’re almost inescapable. They’re on T shirts, drinks coasters, place mats, serviettes, key rings, calendars, chocolate boxes, biscuit tins, etc, etc. The list goes on and on and on and you can even get his nymphias on toilet seats. (Can’t be long before we get Monet on toilet paper, I suppose).

   This flood of water lily images obviously means that Monet’s paintings are amazingly popular — and prices of the originals continue to skyrocket. Sadly though, it has also lead to a brain numbing weariness — overkill — as boredom sets in due to the overexposure. So this is my rip-off number one — the demeaning of great art.

     Now on to rip-off number two: it goes without saying that this tsunami of printed water lilies is a scam of gigantic proportions because the vast majority of these products ignore all international copyright laws, thereby denying the owners of the original images of any income.

     Finally, my third water lily rip-off relates to Giverny itself, where Monet spent his last years producing almost 300 paintings including the famous nymphias series.

     Having just returned from a trip to Giverny, I’d like sound a warning. Anyone expecting to see any original Monet paintings — surely the raison d’etre for many, if not the vast majority, of visitors who make the pilgrimage annually — will be disappointed. It’s a bit of a scam really, and it catches around one million water lily-besotted visitors every year. OK, OK, there are numerous copies of his paintings —  the sound of cash registers ringing up astounding prices even for imitations attest to this — but they’re not the real thing. So be warned. If it’s original Monet water lilies you’re looking for, the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris is the place to go – not Giverny.

   But what about Monet’s property you may well ask? OK, OK, it's pretty good — but no better than your average botanical gardens in your average town or city anywhere in Europe. The only real difference is that Giverny costs 10 Euros — most other places are free.




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