2000, Graham Burgess, Study Of Nymphaeas Including Visit To Claude MonetÆs Garden, Giverny, France


by Graham Burgess

After years of sitting on the Kew Guild Committee and hearing first of the many creditable awards and then the comment, “Does everyone know the facility is available to all Kewites, not just students?” I thought why not, so I applied. I made an application for assistance with a project that has interested me for years, and the Guild responded with some financial support.

I am studying certain aspects of the Nymphaeas. They have interested man since Egyptian times, and their great beauty and hallucinogenic effects have led to them attracting symbolic value. They grow all over the world in one for or another. Until the latter end of the 19th century the interest had not been intensive, but this was all to change due to two men, both of them French: Bory La Tour Marliac and Oscar Claude Monet. The former carried out extensive 41 research on the genetic potential of the various species, and at a time when genetics was in its early stages. My studies have revealed where he obtained his breeding material, and how he managed to cross them to produce the many hybrids we find all over the world. I have exposed the secret rebus which he used to conceal and yet reveal the techniques and structure of his breeding process. In his lifetime, many asked how La Tour Marliac achieved his successes, but he never revealed it. Having said that he did not reveal it, this is not entirely true, for he developed a special code which he incorporated into his plant names.

How interesting that another Frenchman should take an interest in the Nympheasand that he should also hide secrets in the manifestations of his interest. My study included the life and works of Monet. I have visited his garden at Giverny and the places in Paris where he, with others, practised his art. I have studied the paintings in the Louvre and the Musee Marmottan. In the course of all of this, I have discovered secrets in the Nymphaea paintings. Hopefully my work will be published and I will be able to thank the Kew Guild for its support.

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