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Last on

Fri 6 Jan 2012 21:00 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 27 September 2011

The writer and broadcaster Irma Kurtz travels to Monet's garden at Giverny to hear how losing his wife and his sight affected the last years of his life and work. Monet's famous Water Lilies series was his last great masterpiece. It nearly wasn't painted as exactly 100 years ago in 1911 his wife died and he stopped painting for the first time in his life.

At the same time, Monet was losing his sight and cataracts changed the way he saw things. It was his great friend and Prime Minister of France, Clemenceau who encouraged him to pick up his brush again.

Irma Kurtz meets one of Monet's few remaining relatives - Claire Joyes - to walk in the gardens Monet created at his home in Giverny, Northern France. Clare tells Irma about the passion Monet had for his wife Alice and how his garden became an obsession. He painted the garden time after time, and re-touched his canvasses many times as well in the search for perfection. A cataract operation towards the end of his life changed the way he saw things again and he went over some of his previous work. Irma ends her journey in Paris looking at the famous Water Lilies canvasses.

The programme contains interviews with James Priest, British head gardener at Giverny, and the painter Sargy Mann who has experienced cataracts and is now blind but still painting.

Producer: Laura Parfitt
A White Pebble Media production for BBC Radio 4.


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