Claude Monet. Water Lilies. 1914–26. Oil on canvas, three panels, Each 6’ 6 ¾" x 13’ 11 ¼" (200 x 424.8 cm), overall 6’ 6 ¾" x 41’ 10 3/8" (200 x 1276 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
Claude Monet. Haystacks (Effect of Snow and Sun), 1891. Oil on canvas. 25 ¾ x 36 ¼ in. (65.4 x 92.1 cm). Signed and dated (lower left): Claude Monet 91. H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.109)
In his full maturity, Monet devoted himself to two subjects - his lily pond, a diversion of the river Epte across the road from his house at Giverny, and the haystacks in the field adjacent.
With Olympia, Manet reworked the traditional theme of the female nude, using a strong, uncompromising technique. Both the subject matter and its depiction explain the scandal caused by this painting at the 1865 Salon. Even though Manet quoted numerous formal and iconographic references, such as Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Goya’s Maja desnuda, and the theme of the odalisque with her black slave, already handled by Ingres among others, the picture portrays the cold and prosaic reality of a truly contemporary subject. Venus has become a prostitute, challenging the viewer with her calculating look. This profanation of the idealized nude, the very foundation of academic tradition, provoked a violent reaction. Critics attacked the “yellow-bellied odalisque” whose modernity was nevertheless defended by a small group of Manet’s contemporaries with Zola at their head.