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Art and Images in Psychiatry
February 2003

Waterlilies: Green Reflections

Author Affiliations

James C.HarrisMD

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(2):120. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.60.2.120

On the water's surface, borne by the powerful palettes of their leaves, the motionless water lilies await the fulfillment of destinies, no beginning, no end: we have but to gather the vision in its moment. . . . G. Clemenceau1(p356)

CLAUDE MONET'S (1840-1926) final masterpiece, Le cycle des Nymphéas, was a gift to the French nation to celebrate France's victory in the First World War. Housed at the Musée national de l'Organgerie des Tuileries in Paris, there are a series of 22 water landscapes in 2 adjacent rooms. The paintings of water lilies, weeping willows, and the reflections of light onto the surface of the water are a final and permanent record of 25 years of Monet's observations and reflections in his water lily garden at Giverny, his home outside Paris. The water garden, Monet said, was a way to experience as in microcosm the instability of the universe that transforms itself at every moment before our eyes; he said he tried to stop the universe with the blue dome of heaven reflected in its shadows. The paintings are

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