In 1915 Claude Monet built a large studio near his house in Giverny, a town northwest of Paris, for the creation of what he would call his grandes décorations. These works depict the elaborate lily pond and gardens that Monet had created on his property. He captured this subject matter in more than 40 large-scale panels and scores of smaller related canvases between 1914 and 1926, the year of his death.
In 1955 The Museum of Modern Art became the first museum in the United States to acquire one of the large-scale panels. MoMA curators’ interest in Monet at that time had much to do with currents in contemporary art: the grand scale and allover compositions of Abstract Expressionist paintings by artists such as Jackson Pollock made Monet’s large paintings newly relevant. Since then the Water Lilies have held a cherished position in the Museum, affirming Monet’s conviction that art can provide a respite from an increasingly urban, commercialized, and technological world.