If all of the Master’s works at Giverny have been transferred to the Marmottan Monet Museum , art lovers delight in discovering the artist’s collection of Japanese « estampes »
Claude Monet’s collection is composed of forty-six prints by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), twenty-three by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and forty-eight by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), that is to say one hundred and seventeen out of the two hundred and eleven exhibited, plus thirty-two prints held in reserve.
The passion Monet felt for Japan led him to introduce, in an unexpected way, various Japanese touches into the completely original universe he had created in Giverny. The inspiration he drew from the Japanese art of gardens is clearly visible in the planning of the pond which he transformed into a spectacular « water garden » (elements of vegetation, nymphéas flowers…). And the footbridge spanning this vast stretch of flower-covered water is reminiscent of the Japanese bridges omnipresent in the Japanese estampes : this shows how much the artist shared the vision of the great Ukiyo-e masters and how familiar he was with their « floating world «
Monet examined these Japanese prints intensely – just as intensely as the feminine faces engraved by Utamaro- and he loved them so much that he built up an exceptional collection, displayed on the walls of his house in Giverny. The Master had chosen to live among these extraordinary compositions by Hokusai, Hirohige, Utamaro… Whether in his garden or inside his home, Monet was ‘ living in Japan ‘ in Normandy ! If the painter of ‘L’Impression ,soleil levant’ never went to visit ‘ the Land of the Rising Sun’ , he was happy to welcome Japanese people, buyers and collectors who visited him and became his friends ; they corresponded and sent « estampes » destined to enrich the collection so lovingly assembled and kept in Giverny for the pleasure of visitors.