Les Villas à Bordighera
This painting is a brilliant demonstration of Monet's rediscovery of the Mediterranean during his stay in Italy in 1884. And yet it was painted in his studio in Giverny, from a smaller painting executed on the site (Villas at Bordighera, The Santa Barbara Museum of Art).
Monet intended to use the painting for a large decorative panel for Berthe Morisot's drawing room. Early in 1884, Morisot told her sister Edma: "I am starting to get close to my Impressionist friends. Monet is determined to give me a panel for my drawing room. You can imagine how pleased I am to accept it."
This work catches the bright light of the Mediterranean and the painter's fascination for the landscapes of this region. Here he has painted the garden of Mr Moreno, which he called "an earthly paradise" evoking "this property like none other [...] a garden that resembles nothing else, it is a pure fantasy, all the plants in the world grow outside here and do not seem to be tended: it is a tangle of all the varieties of palm trees..." (to Alice Hoschedé, 5 February 1884).
Villas at Bordighera combines several typical features of Monet's art. First of all, it uses the large, almost square format which he favoured for his decorative work. Secondly, the repetition in the studio of a motif studied from nature at Bordighera presages his later ‘series'. Lastly, with this exotic landscape, Monet offers us a variation on one of his favourite themes—the garden.