Water Lily Pond, Water Irises, 1900 - by Claude Monet

Water Lily Pond, Water Irises, 1900, is rich in color and tones. Some of this riot of color is present in the earlier painting The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil, hinting at the extraordinary use of color employed in Monet's later work. The bottom half of the painting shows a vast mixture of flowers of different colors.

By the time Monet painted this painting, the flowers and foliage are dominating nearly the entire canvas. The later painting uses a wider variety of colors that clash together to increase the drama. Each flower is painted with less detail but becomes a splash of color. The colors of the irises by the pond are repeated on the footpath and on the water where the lilies are. Even the sky has a tint of pink to it so that the entire area is suffused with color.

The earlier painting shows a view of Vetheuil, which is about to be swallowed up by the flowers and bushes. In the main painting, the garden appears to have won the battle. Although the bridge and the footpath suggest the presence of humans, the lack of people or buildings gives the garden an air of wilderness. Only a tiny square of the sky is left, and even that looks destined to be covered over by the willow. Nature in both paintings is seen as a strong force.