Water lilies (Nymphaea)(睡蓮, 子午蓮, 瑞蓮 or 小蓮花) are aquatic herbs that grow from rhizomes (modified roots) in soil under bodies of water, with leaves and flowers floating on the surface. The plant grow in the temperate and tropical climates round the world.

Some species have flowers open in the morning and close in the evening and at night, its Chinese name is sleeping water-lilies 睡蓮. Not all water lilies are day-blooming, some varieties are night-blooming.

Water lilies are different from the lotus (Nelumbo)(蓮, 蓮花 or commonly known as 荷花). They belong to different Order, Family and Genus.

In the Chinese prose  Ài Lián Shuō (愛蓮說) by Zhou Dunyi (周敦頤) (1017 – 1073): Out of the turbid waters, it stands pure and unsullied (蓮之出淤泥而不染), most scholars believe that Zhou was describing the lotus flower rather than the water lilies.

The difference between water lilies and the lotus

First the leaves of the water lilies float on the surface of the water, whereas the leaves of the lotus are raised above the water surface.

P1080399 (1280x907)
Water lily (Nymphaea) leaves and flower, the leaves lie flat on the water surface

Secondly, the leaves of water lilies are quite flat whereas the leaves of the lotus has an inverted umbrella shape.

P1080400 (1280x983)
Water lily (Nymphaea) leaves and flower, each leaf have a radial notch or groove

Thirdly, the leaves of water lilies have a radial notch or groove whereas the leaves of the lotus is round and complete.

P1080426 (1280x1038)
Water lily (Nymphaea) leaves and flowers. The water is so clear that the petiole of the leaves can be seen under the water.
P1080392 (1280x960)
Water lily (Nymphaea) flower

Chinese painting of waterlilies

There are much fewer water lilies paintings than lotus paintings. Some contemporary artists eg Bao Shao-you (鮑少游). Yú Zhìzhēn (俞致貞) and Chao Sung-ch’Uan (趙松泉) did some water lilies paintings. Perhaps the popularity and the beauty of lotus overshadows that of water lilies.

chinese 2
Bao Shao-you (鮑少游) (1892 – 1985) Gold fish and water lilies, 102 x 28.5 cm
chinese 2 (2)
details of the above painting
Chinese 1
Yú Zhìzhēn (俞致貞) (1915 – 1995), Water lilies

Chao Sung-ch'Uan (趙松泉)
Chao Sung-ch’Uan (趙松泉), Reclining beauty on rippling cushion

Claude Monet and water lilies

Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) a founder of French Impressionist painting is famous for his water lilies paintings.

198
Monet beside the waterlily pond, c 1904
Early Water lilies of Monet
Signed and dated: Claude Monet, 1903. Oil on canvas; 81.3 x 101.6 cm. The Dayton Art Institute
Signed and dated: Claude Monet, 1903. Oil on canvas; 81.3 x 101.6 cm. The Dayton Art Institute
Signed and dated: Claude Monet, 1904. Oil on canvas; 87.6 x 90.8 cm. The Denver Art Museum
Signed and dated: Claude Monet, 1904. Oil on canvas; 87.6 x 90.8 cm. The Denver Art Museum
41c
Signed and dated: Claude Monet, 1905. Oil on canvas; 89 x 100 cm.
About 1915 - 1917. Oil on canvas; 100 x 180 cm. Collection of the Musee Marmottan, Paris
About 1915 – 1917. Oil on canvas; 100 x 180 cm. Collection of the Musee Marmottan, Paris
Late Waterlilies of Monet
About 1915 - 1919. Oil on canvas; 22 x 201 cm. Musee Marmottan, Paris
About 1915 – 1919. Oil on canvas; 22 x 201 cm. Musee Marmottan, Paris
About 1917 - 1931, Oil on canvas; 198.1 x 596.9 cm, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
About 1917 – 1931, Oil on canvas; 198.1 x 596.9 cm, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
Claude_Monet_038
Water Lilies, 1920-1926, Musée de l’Orangerie
81
About 1915 – 1925. Oil on canvas; 100 x 300 cm. Musee Marmottan, Paris
Japanese bridge and pool of water lilies
Pool of Water Lilies, Signed and dated, Claude Monet 1900; Oil on canvas; 89.2 x 100.3 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago
Japanese bridge and pool of water lilies; Signed and dated, Claude Monet 1900; Oil on canvas; 89.2 x 100.3 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago
288
Japanese bridge and pool of water lilies; 1919

Acknowledgements :

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Ms Joanne Lam for her consistent support.

Bibliography :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymphaeaceae

https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%AE%91%E5%B0%91%E6%B8%B8

http://baike.baidu.com/view/225402.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Monet

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Lilies_(Monet_series) (highly recommended)

http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mus%C3%A9e_de_l%27Orangerie

http://www.ngansiumui.com/about/vanessa-lam_essay.html

Chao Sung-ch’Uan (1981) Chao Sung Ch’uan Paintings, published by Ho Kung-shang, Art Book Co., Ltd, Taiwan

Gordon, R and A Forge A,(1983) Monet, Abradale Press ISBN 0-8109-8091-6

Monet’s Years at Giverny: Beyond Impressionism (1978) The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Abrama  ISBN 0-8109-2183-9

Advertisements