Water Lilies (Monet series)

This article is about the series of paintings. For other uses, see Water lily.
Claude Monet, The Water Lilies - The Clouds, 1920–1926, Musée de l'Orangerie
Claude Monet, The Water Lilies - Setting Sun, 1920–1926, Musée de l'Orangerie
Claude Monet, Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, c. 1920, 200 × 1276 cm (78.74 × 502.36 in), oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Water Lilies (or Nymphéas, French: [nɛ̃.fe.a]) is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926). The paintings depict Monet's flower garden at his home in Giverny, and were the main focus of Monet's artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.[1][2]


Monet's long preference for producing and exhibiting a series of paintings related by subject and perspective began in 1889, with at least ten paintings done at the Valley of the Creuse, which were shown at the Galerie Georges Petit.[3] Among his other famous series are his Haystacks.

During the 1920s, the state of France built a pair of oval rooms at the Musée de l'Orangerie as a permanent home for eight water lily murals by Monet. The exhibit opened to the public on 16 May 1927, a few months after Monet's death.[1] Sixty water lily paintings from around the world were assembled for a special exhibition at the Musée de l'Orangerie in 1999.[4]

The paintings are on display at museums all over the world, including the Musée Marmottan Monet[5] and the musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York,[6] the Art Institute of Chicago,[7] the Saint Louis Art Museum,[8] the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri,[9] the Carnegie Museum of Art, the National Museum of Wales, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, the Cleveland Museum of Art,[10] the Portland Art Museum and the Legion of Honor.[11]

The paintings at auction

On 19 June 2007, one of Monet's water lily paintings sold for £18.5 million at a Sotheby's auction in London.[12] On 24 June 2008 another of Monet's water lily paintings, Le bassin aux nymphéas, sold for almost £41 million at Christie's in London, almost double the estimate of £18 to £24 million.[13]

In May 2010, it was announced that the 1906 Nymphéas work would be auctioned in London in June 2010, the painting had an estimated sale price of between £30 and £40 million.[14] Giovanna Bertazzoni, Christie's auction house director and head of impressionist and modern art, said, "Claude Monet's water-lily paintings are amongst the most recognised and celebrated works of the 20th Century and were hugely influential to many of the following generations of artists."[14] The sale took place on 23 June 2010 at the auction house and the painting attracted bids of up to £29 million, but it ultimately failed to sell.[15]

On 6 May 2014, one of the Water Lilies paintings was auctioned at Christie's, New York City for $27 million.[16]


  1. 1 2 "Monet, Claude." Grove Art Online.
  2. Smart, Alastair (18 October 2014). "Why are Monet's water-lilies so popular?". The Telegraph. telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  3. Tucker, Paul Hayes, Monet in the '90s: The Series Paintings, 1989, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in association with Yale University Press , p.41.
  4. Susan Bell. "Paris sees Monet lilies in a new light." The Times. 8 May 1999.
  5. Claude Monet paintings at the Marmottan
  6. Water Lilies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
  7. Water Lilies at the Art Institute of Chicago
  8. Water Lilies at the Saint Louis Art Museum,
  9. Water Lilies, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  10. "Water Lilies (Agapanthus)". Cleveland Museum of Art. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  11. Dalya Alberge. "Monet lilies make £18.5m but just miss world record." The Times. 20 June 2007.
  12. The Laura Henry Collection "Monet masterpiece sells at auction for almost £41million" The Laura Henry Collection. 25 June 2008.
  13. 1 2 "Monet water lily to be auctioned at Christie's". BBC News. BBC. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  14. "Picasso reaches £34.7m in Christie's auction". BBC News. BBC. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  15. "Monet's 'Water Lilies' Auctioned in NY for $27 million". ABC News. ABC. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  16. National Gallery
External video
Monet's Water Lilies
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