Claude Monet’s obsession with Water Lilies

It’s no secret that at Beebly’s ( we love Claude Monet’s work. After all we have not one, but two step-by-step lessons based on Monet’s painting genius.

A study of Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise by William Dunn

Famous Painting Study #5: Monet's Water Lilies>

Let’s take a deeper dive into the Water Lilies painting today as this is quite a story. 

You might already know that Monet was a French Impressionist painter. Many consider him the founder of Impressionism. In fact, it was Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise, painted in 1872 and exhibited in 1874, which gave the Impressionists their name. 

Impressionism was a radical art movement that opposed the rigid formalism of his era. At the time France was considered the authority on beauty and style. There was a consensus among academic artists of the time on what was the correct form and subject matter for a painting of value. Around the late 1860s and 1870s, Monet took part in a number of exhibitions staged in protest of the rigid formalism of the Académie Salon show. He showed everyone that it could be done differently than in the classical style everyone was used to. 

Monet loved painting series on a specific topic. Some of his most famous painting series are Haystacks, Rouen Cathedral and Water Lilies. 

It was the Water Lilies series that came to him as an inspiration from his gardens. 



Yes! That is Monet’s actual garden that inspired the Water Lilies. 

These very Water Lilies are the ones which became an obsession for Monet over the years.

He produced over 300 canvases of Water Lilies… 40 of them were LARGE. 

Like this kind of large:



Above is a current museum photo of these paintings, but I also found one with the painter himself:



Here are a few more images of the water lilies paintings where Monet is changing his palette and using different colors to depict the same subject. We can only guess that the changes were due to a change of lighting and time of day or perhaps they were just a reflection of the artist's current mood…?



Keep in mind that Monet used watercolors, pastels, and oils, so some of these results might not be achievable with only watercolors. Whenever you are setting out to copy a great painting, do research as to the type of medium the original artist used. Trying to reproduce an oil painting with watercolors may lead to disappointment as these two mediums behave and dry very differently. 

Isn’t it interesting how he saw it in so many different ways? Have you ever painted the same subject over and over, achieving different results?

And if you liked those paintings, you will most certainly enjoy this lovely video that shows off 50 of Claude Monet’s paintings set to a beautiful Chopin Nocturne. 


by Agnieszka Evenson

September 8th, 2022