Water Lilies and Agapanthus, 1923 - by Claude Monet

In the first few years of the 1900s, Monet developed a passion for motorcars. When not painting, he would take Alice on day trips to try to console her following the death of her daughter. In 1904 the pair traveled to Madrid for the first time, where Monet admired the paintings of Diego Velasquez.

Monet was mostly occupied at this time with painting his garden and lily pond. It was of great distress to the artist when, in the winter of 1910, the Seine broke its banks and flooded the pond. As the waters receded, mud and rotten plants covered his idyll, but just months later Alice wrote that the garden paradise had been restored. She had become ill before the flood and died in the spring of 1911, leaving Monet devastated. With tragedy chasing tragedy, Monet' sight began to fail and in 1914 his son Jean also died.

This painting was done during these difficult times, but tells little of Monet's emotional state. His abstraction increased, the plants reduced to fluid geometric shapes, shot through with pale purple, delicate yellows and powder blue.