Monet planted gardens wherever he lived. When he rented this house at Vétheuil, he made arrangements with the owner to landscape the terraces, which lead down to the Seine. The boy with the wagon is Monet's young son, and on the steps behind him are other members of his extended household.
On the path, the brilliant sunlight is dappled with shade that falls in blues, plums, and various greens. Figures and faces are defined —briefly— with color. The large flowerpots were Monet's, and he took them with him each time he moved, using them in other gardens. They are "blue and white" only in our understanding: examined up close they are blue and green where they reflect the grass behind them, elsewhere tinged with gold or pink.
By the early 1880s, when this work was painted, Monet had become increasingly interested in the painted surface itself and less concerned with capturing a spontaneous effect of light and atmosphere. The very composition of this painting, with its high horizon, traps our eye in the canvas—even the path is blocked in the distance by the rising steps. We are forced back to the surface, where the paint is textured and heavily layered. At close range, these brushstrokes, though still inspired by nature, seem less descriptive than decorative.
lower right: Claude Monet 80
Acquired 1910 from the artist by (Georges Bernheim, Paris). (René Gimpel, Paris). Guez, Paris. (Gimpel Fils, London), by 1946 until at least 1950; sold to (Lagarde) for (Wildenstein & Co., London, New York, and Paris); sold 15 March 1961 to Ailsa Mellon Bruce [1901-1969], New York; bequest 1970 to NGA.
- Exposition de tableaux de Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, & Sisley, Galeries Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1899, no. 13 as Maison de Monet à Vétheuil.
- Claude Monet, Galerien Thannhauser, Berlin, 1928, no. 28, repro.
- A Selection from Five Centuries of French Painting, Gimpel Fils, London, 1946, no. 15, as Son Jardin.
- Claude Monet, Gimpel Fils, London, 1950, no. 2.
- Cent chefs-d'oeuvre de l'art français 1750-1950, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1957, no. 59, repro.
- French Paintings from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and Mrs. Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1966, no. 86, repro.
- Hommage à Claude Monet, Grand Palais, Paris, 1980, no. 83.
- Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad; State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, 1986, no. 18, repro.
- Impressionisti della National Gallery of Art di Washington, Ala Napoleonica e Museo Correr, Venice, and Palazzo Reale, Milan, 1989, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
- Monet, a Turning Point, Dallas Museum of Art, 1998, no cat.
- Around Impressionism: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999, no cat.
- Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1999, no. 43, repro.
- Monet: The Seine and the Sea 1878-1883, Royal Scottish Academy Building, Edinburgh, 2003, no. 46, repro.
- Monet's Garden, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2004-2005, no. 20, repro.
- Claude Monet 1840-1926, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 2010-2011, no. 152, repro.
- Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 2011, no. 32, repro.
- Young, Mahonri Sharp. "The Mellon Collections: The Great Years of French Painting." Apollo 83 (June 1966): 432, repro.
- Wildenstein, Daniel. Claude Monet: biographie et catalogue raisonné. 5 vols. Lausanne and Paris, 1974-1991: no. 685.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 244, repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 487, no. 722, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 280, repro.
- Bernard, Bruce. The Impressionist Revolution. London, 1986:255, repro. 139.
- Coman, Florence E. Joie de Vivre: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1991: no. 17, repro.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 263.
- Kelder, Diane. The Great Book of French Impressionism, 1997, no. 181, repro.
- Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA: One Hundred Covers and Essays from The Journal of the American Medical Association. St. Louis, 1997: 76-77, 203, color repro.
- Brettell, Richard R., and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. New Haven and London, 2006: 327 fig. 86d.
- Kostyrko, Diana. "From Fragonard to Kennard: René Gimpel, art dealer." Art Monthly Australia 217 (March 2009):33.
- Kennicott, Philip. "French Rooms Reopen, With Different Accents." Washington Post 135, no. 55 (January 29, 2012): E25.