L’herbier secret de Giverny, Monet et Hoschedé en botanistes – Rouen (France)

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L’herbier secret de Giverny, Monet et Hoschedé en botanistes – Rouen (France)

Giverny’s secret herbarium, Monet and Hoschedé, the botanists

Since he settled there in 1888 to his death in 1926, Claude Monet spent forty-three years in Giverny, i.e. half of his life. His famous series of poplars, haystacks, etc, immediately placed plant life in the centre of his work. Rapidly imbued with the nature he observed and seized in the surrounding country landscapes, the artist set to arranging his own, exceptional garden, with passion. The image of Claude Monet as a gardener, wearing his straw or felt hat, offers a new vision to that immortalised by Sacha Guitry in his film Ceux de Chez Nous (1915), portraying the artist as a notable, wearing a tight-fitting white three-piece suit and painting water lilies by the pond. To these two visions, we can add a third, lesser-known one: Monet the botanist. A vision we owe, not to photography, but to the genuine herbarium specimens collected in Giverny in the 1990s by his stepson Jean-Pierre Hoschedé (1877-1961).

Proclaimed a member of the Société Botanique de France (French Botanic Society) in 1901, Jean-Pierre Hoschedé set to studying Normandy’s plant life with the Abbot Toussaint, following in the footsteps of Louis Corbière, the original author of Nouvelle Flore de Normandie.  They worked together to compile a herbarium and exchanged with the regional botanists of their time. Specimens can also be found in Cherbourg, Paris and Strasbourg.