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"Under the Water Lilies"

Claude Moanet

One of Moanet's truly tragic masterpieces, it records the events of July, 1904, as Moanet sat by the edge of the pond on his estate at Giverny in France, painting yet another in a long series of pictures of water lilies. The composition of the painting bothered him, but he could not put his finger on the reason.


His mistress of the time, Ophelia Feinswog-Lambeth, bored to tears, urged him not to spend another day at this tedious pastime. She wanted him to take her to a cabaret in the village which was featuring an authentic American jazz band. Annoyed by his continuing refusals, she stamped her foot in irritation near the edge of the pond, which collapsed, throwing her into the turbid water.


Ignoring her increasingly faint pleas for help, Moanet, inspired as never before, began painting what was to become his masterpiece, deftly adding the girl's floating body to the composition. Four hours later, when asked by the police why he had waited so long before calling for help, Moanet shrugged and said that he did not wish to lose the light. "One can always find another mistress," he told them, "but a day like today is irreplaceable."


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