The Water-Lily Pond (1899) by Claude MonetThe National Gallery, London
It wasn't actually a painting that Monet deemed his ‘greatest work of art’ but the beautiful gardens he created at his home in Giverny. In his later years, it became his sole subject.
The bridge, which Monet designed himself, shows the influence of Japanese art on his work. This is one of 18 canvases of this view in differing light conditions that Monet started in the summer of 1899, the same year he started painting Waterloo and Charing Cross bridges.
The late afternoon sun casts a shaft of light over the bridge, illuminating the right-hand side in pale green in contrast to the prevailing darker blue-green.
The bold line of the bridge and the longer brushstrokes of the reeds provide a contrast to the small daubs of colour of the water lilies.
Monet’s water lilies were a hybrid breed in pink and yellow as well as white.
The undersides of the water lilies were dark red, the same colour in which Monet signed the painting. Red is on the other side of the colour wheel to the green that dominates the painting; this contrast was in keeping with Monet's interest in complementary colours.
Among the mass of water lilies, you can also see the reflection of the willow trees on the surface of the pond.