The Claude Monet Rose

Claude Monet RoseWhile writing on Camille Pissarro Rose, I chanced upon Claude Monet Rose which in some ways looks similar to my untrained eyes.  This fruity-scented rose variety has carmine, orange to creamy white base stripes, and was bred by Jack E Christensen later introduced by Delbard to the European market in 1992.

Claude Monet (14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926), a French Impressionist painter who needs no introduction, his famous water lilies paintings were reproduced and mentioned regularly in media.  Monet’s renowned garden in Giverny was bequeathed by his son Michel to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966.  Through the Foundation Claude Monet, the house and gardens were opened for visits in 1980 after restoration.  The house and garden are major attractions in Giverny and hosted tourists from all over the world.

Monet started his training for a career in art since young with the support of his mother, a singer.  But at age 16, his mother passed away and he has to leave school and went to live with his childless aunt.  In 1861, Monet was drafted into the military service for 7 years.  His prosperous father declined to buy him out of the service because Monet refused to give up his painting.  After a year in the army, Monet contacted typhoid fever, during his convalescence, Monet’s aunt get him out of the army and later went to an art school.

Disillusioned with the traditional art teachings, Monet met with a group of Impressionist artist and shared the new approaches to art, painting the effects of light en plein air. Crucial to the art of the Impressionist painters was the understanding of the effects of light and juxtaposition of colours on the objects.

 On 28 June 1870, Monet married Camille Doncieux and both lived in poverty partially due to the Franco Prussian war which broke out a month later.  Monet continued his painting and was inspired by the style and subject matter of Camille Pissarro and Edouard Manet.

Monet in his floating studio

In 1878, Monet lived in a village on the right bank of the Seine River near Paris and produced some paintings in the floating boat studio. Monet study on the effects of light and reflections on the water and surrounding objects, changed his mind set from scenes and objects to colours and shapes.

Claude Monet. Camille on her Death bed.In 1878 Camille Monet was diagnosed with uterine cancer and died on 5 September 1879 at the young age of 32.  Monet painted and analyse the colours in oil on his dead wife, which he said was both the joy and torment moment of his life.  John Berger described this painting as “a blizzard of white, grey, purplish paint…a terrible blizzard of loss which will forever efface her features.  In fact, there can be very few death-bed paintings which have been so intensely felt or subjectively expressive.”

During the early 1880s, Monet painted some landscapes and seascapes.  These began to evolve into series of painting of the same scene in different time in order to capture the changing light and the passing of the seasons.

His first series exhibited was of haystacks, painted from different points of view and at different times of the day.  In 1892 he produced his best-known series of 26 views of Rouen Cathedral.  In these paintings, Monet broke with painterly traditions by cropping the subject to change the focus on the play of light and shade instead of the building.

Musee L'OrangerieIn 1892, Monet married Alice Hoschede who had taken care of Monet two sons, Jean and Michel.  They moved to Giverny in 1883 and by November 1890 bought the house and the land around it, the family continued to develop the garden.  White water lilies local to France were planted along with imported ones resulting in a range of colours including yellow, blue and white lilies that turned pink with age.  Some of Monet large scale paintings on the water lilies pond were housed in Musee de l’Orangerie in France.

In 1899, Monet began to paint the water lilies pond with different views and the alternating and mirror-like reflections that became an integral part of his work.  By mid-1910, Monet has achieved a completely new, fluid and spontaneous abstract style of painting on the water lilies.

In 1923, Monet underwent two operations to remove his cataracts.  The effect of the failing sights was shown in some of his paintings.  Monet passed away on 5 December 1926 at age 86 of lung cancer.  He was buried in the Giverny church cemetery.











Word of Wisdom

2016Aug14 Botanic Garden (9)Tomorrow when you wake up, check that you are alive, alive does not simply doing things mechanically, but become alive.   I want you to understand that you are mortal.  If you are conscious that you have come with limited time, you will arrange your time naturally in a most sensible way, if you think that you are immortal, you have time to do stupid things.  If you understand that you are mortal, you don’t have time to do other things other than what really matters to you and in your life you must do only what truly matter to you and nothing else but that.  This you will only do if you are conscious that you are mortal being, and that it could be possible that you could be dead tomorrow – Sadhguru


Elizabeth Gilbert’s Letter to Fear

Big MagicLetter to fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, extracted from page 35-36.

“Dearest Fear

Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together.  I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do.  I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously.  Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job.  So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must.  But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused.  And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring.  There’s plenty of room on this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this:  Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way.  I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed.  You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a vote.  You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature.  Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio.  But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

The Camille Pissarro Rose

Camille Pissarro RoseThere is a rose named for Camille Pissarro.  It was bred by G Delbard in France in 1996.  This bloom has unusual colours with yellow, pink and cream stripes and was dedicated to one of my favourite master who continually developed and courageously adapted to new theories in painting; Camille Pissarro (10 July 1830 – 13 November 1903), a Danish-French Impressionist painter.

Pissarro who insisted to paint common individual in natural settings without “artifice or grandeur” was often addressed as Pere Pissarro (father Pissarro) by the Impressionist painters not because he was the oldest among the group but also by virtue of his wisdom, balanced, kind and warm-hearted personality.  The father of modern painting, Paul Cezanne said “he was a father for me.  A man to consult and a little like the good Lord”.  Paul Gauguin considered Pissarro as one of his masters.  Pierre Auguste Renoir regarded Pissarro painting as “revolutionary”.

Pissarro was the only artist who had shown his work at all 8 Paris Impressionist exhibitions.  These exhibitions were staged by a group of Impressionist artists after being continually refused by the Salon (an academy in Paris which dictated the kind of art that was acceptable according to traditional canon).

During Pissarro younger days, he developed an appreciation for French art masters, even though his father preferred him to work in his business.  While working, Pissarro continued to practise drawing during his free time.  By age 21, Pissarro take on painting as a full-time profession.  In 1855, he moved back to Paris.  He was influenced by Camille Corot on outdoor painting known as au plein air and travelled to French countryside to paint the daily reality scenes of village life.  Unlike Corot who finished his paintings back in his studio, Pissarro preferred to finish his painting outdoors in one sitting, because he did not want to lose the first impression.

Camille Pissarro. Le Boulevard de Montmartre, Matinee de Printemps (1897), oil on canvas.

Camille Pissarro. Le Boulevard de Montmartre, Matinee de Printemps (1897), oil on canvas.

In 1885, Pissarro practised pointillism influenced by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.  But 4 years later, Pissarro dropped the theory as he thought the system was too artificial and impossible to render his sensations to life and movement and revert to his earlier Impressionist style.  But this detour also made his later paintings more refined.

In Pissarro old age, he was suffering from a recurring eye infection that prevented him from painting outdoors.  So he chose to paint from the room he resided during his travel, usually on higher level to gain broader views.  Le Boulevard de Montmartre, Matinee de Printemps (1897) was painted during this period.  Though Pissarro sold few of his paintings during his lifetime, this painting was sold at Sotheby’s London for around 19million British Pound in February 2014.

Pissarro passed away in Paris on 13 November 1903 and was buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.






August Renoir Rose

Auguste Renoir RosePierre-Auguste Renoir was a French Impressionist artist, born 25 February 1841.  The rose named in his honour is a strong fragrance fuchsia bloom that is cupped, large and full with delicate reflexed petals.

Though other artists who operate on shock factors may disagree, but I share his philosophy on paintings:  To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them.

 Renoir earlier journey in pursuit of painting was not smooth, although he displayed a talent for his work as porcelain apprentice, he often sought refuge in the galleries of the Lourve.  He started studying art in 1862 and has his first exhibition in 1864 but recognition was slow, partly as a result of the Franco-Prussian War.

In the late 1860s, during en plein air (outdoor) painting, he and Claude Monet discovered that the colour of shadows is not brown or black, but the reflected colour of the objects surrounding them, an effect known today as diffuse reflection.  After a series of rejections by the Salon juries, in April 1874, Renoir joined an Impressionist art show with Monet, Sisley, Pissarro and other artists, but the response for the show was not well-received by art critic.

Renoir is best known for his open-air scene crowded with people full of sparking colour and light.  But in mid 1880s, he shifted to a more disciplined formal techniques influenced by the Renaissance masters.  However, by 1890, he changed his direction again.  To dissolve outlines, as in his earlier work, he returned to thinly brushed colour.

In 1907 Renoir moved to the warmer climate of Les Collettes due to rheumatoid arthritis, even this illness severely limit his mobility Renoir continued to paint.  In old age, Renoir loved to paint flowers especially roses.  His failing eyesight led to his paintings being more expressive, the texture of the paint is thicker in circular strokes to depict the rose petals.

Renoir had created several thousand paintings, the warm sensuality of his style made his paintings well-known and frequently reproduced.  The largest single collection of his paintings, 181 pieces is at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.  Renoir passed away on 3 December 1919 in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur.

Anne Boleyn Rose

Anne Boleyn Rose.jpgAnne Boleyn born c1501 – 19 May 1536, was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII.

In 1526, Henry VIII began his pursuit of Anne, she resisted to become his mistress which her sister Mary Boleyn had been.  Anne Boleyn became on absorbing object of Henry’s desire to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine so he would be free to marry Anne.

The annulment was met with objection from the Pope.  But Henry and Anne were married on 25 January 1533.  The result of this marriage brought the Church of England under the King’s control instead of Rome.  Anne was crowned Queen of England on 1 June 1533.  On 7 September, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I.  Anne’s marriage was strained for the failure to give Henry a son.  After Anne’s three miscarriages, Henry began to turn his attention to Jane Seymour.  In April 1536, Anne was investigated for high treason and was beheaded on 19 May.

After the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen.  Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation.  She was mentioned in many artistic and cultural works and retained her influential image.


The Audrey Hepburn Rose

Audrey Hepburn (4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress, model, dancer and humanitarian.  Recognized as a film and fashion icon.

Hepburn spent her childhood between Belgium, England and the Netherlands with her father job posting.  She is able to speak Dutch and English and varying degree in French, Spanish and Italian.  But life is never a bed of roses for her.  During the Dutch famine of 1944 and 1945 and German occupation, Hepburn and her family had to use tulip bulbs to make flour for bread.  Due to malnutrition, she developed acute anemia, respiratory problems and edema.  After 1945, when the war ended, she moved to London to learn ballet but decided to concentrate on acting due to her health reason.

She shot to stardom for playing the lead role in Roman Holiday(1953) followed by a number of successful films, such as Sabrina(1954), The Nun’s story(1959), Breakfast at Tiffany’s(1961), My Fair Lady(1964) etc.  After 1967, Hepburn appeared in fewer films and chose to devote more time to her family and UNICEF which she was involved in since 1954.

The rose bred by Jerry F Twomey named in honour of Audrey Hepburn is a classic beauty that is deep pink in bud and open up to a light pink and then almost white, high centered bloom with lush deep green foliage.  A hardy hybrid tea rose with a light, fruit scent and repeats well through the season.

Anna Pavlova Rose

Anna Pavlova RoseA rose named after a Russian prima ballerina:  Anna Pavlova (12 February 1881 – 23 January 1931).  In 1981, a rose bred by English breeder, Peter Beales; of many petals with soft delicate pink colour and deeper shadings in the base is named after Anna Pavlova, in celebration of 100th Anniversary of her birth.  The large, globular flowers has strong scent with upright and firm stem and dark green foliage.

Anna Pavlova was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.  Most recognized for her creation of the role The Dying Swan.  Pavlova’s training in ballet did not come easily to her.  Her arched feet, thin ankles and long limbs clashed with the small, compact body favoured for the ballerina of the time and she was taunted by her fellow students.  Undeterred, Pavlova trained to improve her technique, she would practice and practice after learning a step and took extra lessons.  She said, “No one can arrive from being talented alone.  God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius.”

Pavlova graduated in 1899 at age 18 from the Imperial Ballet School.  She made her official debut at the Mariinsky Theatre, which drew praise from the critics.  She was named danseuse in 1902, premiere danseuse in1905 and prima ballerina in 1906 after a resounding performance in Giselle.

Since 1908, Pavlova has begun her tour performance abroad.  In 1907 she debuted in Stockholm.  After one of her performances, a crowd of audience followed her carriage silently to her hotel.  Pavlova go on the balcony to thank them and was met by a storm of applause.  She bowed, hurried to her room, pulled out the basket of flowers (gifts for her performances) and began to drop flowers in the crowd:  some roses, lilies, violets, lilacs….

 In 1912, Pavlova bought the “Ivy House” in London, England, where she lived for the rest of her life.  While touring in The Hague, Pavlova had pneumonia and required an operation but she would never be able to dance again.   She refused to have the surgery and said “If I can’t dance then I’d rather be dead.”  She passed away on 23 January 1931 with her last words “Get my ‘Swan’ costume ready.”  In accordance with old ballet tradition, on the day she was to have performed, the show went on as scheduled with a single spotlight circling an empty stage where she would have been.

The Pavlova dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer in Wellington during her tour of New Zealand and Australia in the 1920s.  The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years.


The Albrecht Durer Rose

Albrecht Durer Rose

Albrecht Durer Rose

It is interesting to know that one of my favourite artists has a rose under his name:  Albrecht Durer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528) a painter, printmaker and theorist of the German Renaissance.   The rose named in his honour has the colours that can only be described by a painter, peach blend, salmon, orange or even deep pink.

Durer left an autobiographical writings, so his life is well documented.  After a few years of school, Durer started to learn the basics of goldsmithing and drawing from his father.  Though his father wanted him to continue his training as a goldsmith, he showed more interest in drawing and started to learn under Michael Wolgemut at the age of 15 in 1486.  After completing his term of apprenticeship, Durer travel around Europe to continue his learning of drawing, different methods of printmaking and painting.

Durer worked on an essay on aesthetics between 1512 and 1528 about his theories on ‘ideal beauty’.   He believed that truth was hidden within nature and that there were rules which ordered beauty.  In his final draft, Durer believed that human creativity is spontaneous or inspired to a concept of ‘selective inward synthesis’, in other words, that an artist builds on a wealth of visual experiences in order to imagine beautiful things.

Durer died in Nuremberg at the age of 56.  His house and workshop is now a museum and a prominent Nuremberg landmark.  Durer is buried in Johannisfriedhof cemetery.