“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.” – Claude Monet.
Oscar-Claude Monet was a French painter and a revolutionary artist who gifted the creators and artists of the world with a new mode of artistic production known as ‘impressionism’. Having had humble beginnings, as the son of a grocery shop owner, Monet always wanted to be an artist, creating art unlike those seen and admired previously in France. As opposed to the conventional paintings of still structures, Monet desired to capture the fleeting nature of the world around him in his paintings. If he had been an architect, this desire would have been reflected in that as well.
In 18th Century France, structures inspired by late baroque style were prevalent. The baroque style focuses on emphasizing the grandeur, luxury, and artistry, meant to awe and intimidate those that perceive it. Monet’s simple nature with his ambition of appreciating and documenting the French countryside would have raged against the idea of a closed and formal nature of the classic Baroque style. Similar to the way he modified the original art styles, Monet would have made alterations and applied his unique style of showcasing nature with the help of light.
An architectural style with some elements of the Rococo architectural style and leaning towards organic architecture would be the one best suited for the artist. The use of limestone structures, abandoning rigid forms of the previous era of architecture, and adopting curves and undulations would have been a highlight of Monet’s design. Structures with motifs like shells, leaves, birds, water movements, fruits with some eastern elements like monkeys, oriental flowers, people, and delicate carved limestone details of the baroque style would have been included in the design by Monet.
Special attention would have been given to the integration of light in the structures with the use of stained glass spanning large openings depicting natural elements. Paintings and sculptures molded into decorative ensembles with dramatic and vivid colors, contrasting surface textures depicting human nature and vivid natural scenes would have been illuminated by these light sources to provide an exemplary visual experience.
The impressive artistry of this period would have also been portrayed through the use of complex gilded frames made for mirrors placed in a strategic location to form an illusion of a larger space. Furniture with serpentine curves and vegetal designs crafted by famous artists of the period including Juste-Aurele Meissonier and Nicolas Pineau would have been used in the buildings.
The gardens designed by him would have been a characteristic feature of Monet’s design. As opposed to the formal gardens as seen in the landscape of the Palace of Versailles, Monet’s garden would resemble those seen in the rural parts of the country in that century. Untamed grasses and shrubs, blooming hydrangeas for a natural look with tumbled stone pavements would have been seen in many gardens designed by Monet.
Having spent the majority of his lifetime near seas, Monet would have been heavily influenced to include water bodies in his gardens. Reflecting his painting of the water lilies, Monet would have strategically placed ponds and fountains with some botanical elements in his gardens to exhibit the playful and ever changing nature of light as perceived by the observer.
As an artist, though initially mocked and ridiculed for his artistic preferences, Monet persevered in his chosen style and thus influenced art all around the world forever. Even if he were to have been an architect, this nature of his would have made him strive for this unusual style of architecture and changed the architecture in France forever.