Saturday, 1 October 2011


“The disappointment of Manhood succeeds to the delusion of Youth: let us hope that the heritage of Old Age is not despair.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Having spent half the morning in hospital after an acute onset of lower back pain (which proved to be musculoskeletal in nature rather anything more sinister), once again cause me to meditate on my own mortality and the years that advance inexorably. The body’s machine begins to fail: Today a gear wheel wears out, tomorrow a belt snaps, the next day a crank breaks, all causing the machine to slow down, to work less efficiently, to stop and start again and again, more reluctantly each time, until finally it stops forever. Death approaches and each day I get more chances to contemplate it and become accustomed to its ever-closer arrival. Such is life and may all who live it reach a ripe old age free of sorrow, devoid of regret.

We rested today, coming back home from the hospital and relaxing without doing much at all, watching a movie and taking it easy. I feel better this evening, but there are still twinges of pain there, just reminders that I am no longer a Spring chicken and that I should not behave like one, putting excessive strains and stress on the machine that has started to wear out.

Appropriately then today for Song Saturday, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project, from the album ‘Eye in Sky’:

Old and Wise

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows approaching me
And to those I left behind
I wanted you to know
You've always shared my deepest thoughts
You follow where I go.

And oh when I'm old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me
Autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time
When they asked me if I knew you
I'd smile and say you were a friend of mine
And the sadness would be lifted from my eyes
Oh when I'm old and wise

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows surrounding me
And to those I leave behind
I want you all to know
You've always shared my darkest hours
I'll miss you when I go.

And oh, when I'm old and wise
Heavy words that tossed and blew me
Like autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time
When they ask you if you knew me
Remember that you were a friend of mine
As the final curtain falls before my eyes
Oh when I'm old and wise.

As far as my eyes can see…

Thursday, 29 September 2011


“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” - Paul McCartney

As tomorrow, October 1st is World Vegetarian Day, Food Friday today is devoted to vegetarianism! A vegetarian is a person who does not eat meat or fish (and sometimes other animal products), especially for moral, religious, or health reasons. A vegan is someone who does not eat or use animals or animal products at all. This is generally because of moral reasons and many vegans are active animal liberationists. A vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining them. Many vegan versions of familiar foods are available, so you can eat vegan hot dogs, ice cream, cheese and vegan mayonnaise. Soy bean protein can nowadays mimic all sorts of animal meats and products, as well as masquerade as milk and cheese.

Many religions around the world are very proscriptive about diet and several religions prescribe strictly vegetarian diets. Hinduism’s teachers and scriptures often expressly encourage a vegetarian diet, though not all Hindus are vegetarian. Hindus almost universally avoid beef since they consider the cow (Krishna’s favorite animal) sacred. Vegetarianism is expected practice among Jains (1% of Indians), who hold that it is wrong to kill or harm any living being. Buddha was a Hindu who accepted many of Hinduism’s core doctrines, such as karma and he explicitly taught vegetarianism as a component of his general instruction to be mindful and compassionate. Practicing Buddhists are vegetarians.

The Chinese religion of Taoism holds nature as sacred, and this view also favours vegetarianism. Taoism teaches that yin and yang are the two fundamental energies in the world, and Taoists have always “taken the accomplishments of yin [the non-violent, non-aggressive approach] and rescue of creatures as their priority.” For example, the famous Taoist Master Li Han-Kung explicitly prohibited “those who consume meat” from his holy mountain.

The Torah (Hebrew Scriptures) describes vegetarianism as an ideal. In the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, and all creatures were instructed to eat plant foods. (Genesis 1:29-30)  The prophet Isaiah had a utopian vision in which everyone will once again be vegetarian: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb … the lion shall eat straw like the ox … They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:6-9). Although the Torah states that, after the Flood, God gave humans permission to eat meat (Genesis 9:3), God also restricted humankind’s exploitation of animals.  The Jewish people are especially obligated to keep kosher dietary laws and detailed laws requiring humane treatment of animals.  Most (but not all) kosher laws deal with meat.

Islam shares many religious and dietary laws with Judaism (Quran 2:172) and therefore Muslims share with Jews the teachings against cruelty to animals. Islam also teaches that people should only eat healthy foods. Many studies have shown that the products of modern factory farms, high in fat and laden with hormones and antibiotics, harm one’s health.

Christianity as it first developed had many dietary laws and if one looks at the Eastern churches, for example the Greek Orthodox faith, there are elaborate rules about fasting and what can be eaten when. This provides for a mainly vegetarian diet, perfectly suited for the Mediterranean countries. It is interesting, however, that there are certain feast days in the church calendar when fasting is prohibited! The Catholic faith used to be more proscriptive in the past, but generally even devout Catholics nowadays rarely fast.

There are four major fasts during the Greek Orthodox Church year:
  • The Great Lent, which begins on a Monday, seven weeks before Easter. This Monday, called Kathari Theftera (Καθαρή Δευτέρα, pronounced kah-thah-REE thehf-TEH-rah), translates to Clean Monday. Fasting restrictions are eased on weekends (not abandoned), and Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday (the weekend before Easter), restrictions to meat and dairy foods still apply, therefore fish is usually consumed.
  • Fast of the Apostles, which lasts from one to six weeks, begins on a Monday, eight days after Pentecost, and ends on June 28th, the day before the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.
  • Fast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Mary, Mother of God), from August 1st to 14th.
  • Christmas Fast, from November 15th to December 24th.
  • Individual Fast Days: January 5th - eve of the Theophany (Epiphany), August 29th - the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, September 14th - the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, and all Wednesdays and Fridays.

Days When Fasting is NOT Permitted: Between Christmas and Theophany, the 10th week before Easter, the week after Easter, and the week after Pentecost.

It is not surprising that many traditional Greek meals are vegetarian or vegan. Here is a recipe for vegan stuffed vine leaves, a popular spring dish from Crete. It is made when the vines begin to sprout leaves and when one can collect the young tender leaves to stuff.

Vegan Stuffed Vine Leaves

500 grams tender young vine leaves (each about 10 cm in diameter)
1 medium sized white zucchini
1 medium sized eggplant (peeled)
2 large ripe tomatoes
2 medium sized onions
1.5 cups calrose rice (i.e. not long grain)
1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch of fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil to thoroughly coat ingredients (see below)
Juice of two lemons

•    Wash the rice and soak it in a bowl of water for about 15 minutes.
•    Blanch the vine leaves in hot water and put in a colander to drain.
•    In a colander inside a bowl grate the onions, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant (reserving the fluid draining).
•    Chop finely the washed and cleaned parsley and dill and add to the vegetables.
•    Add the salt, pepper, tomato paste and the drained rice, mixing all well.
•    Add enough olive oil to coat all the components, but not to excess, mixing well all the while.
•    Take each leaf and cut the stem off, laying it on the palm of your hand, the shiny side down.
•    Fill the leaf with a spoonful of the stuffing and wrap the leaf neatly around the stuffing to make a small parcel like a little rectangular box.
•    Place in a heavy saucepan (25-30 cm diameter), tightly packing the vine leaf parcels in a circular fashion, layer upon layer, half-filling the pan.
•    Continue until all the stuffing is used up.
•    Pour the fluids from the grated vegetables in the pan and add about 2-3 tablespoonfuls of olive oil as well.
•    There should be some vine leaves left over. Lay these on top of the pan, covering the vine parcels well.
•    Place a shallow, heavy china plate on top of the vine leaves, to press them down while they are cooking.
•    Simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until they are cooked ( you can take out one out and taste). 10 minutes before the end of the cooking we add the lemon juice.
•    These can be eaten hot or cold.

For the non-vegans amongst you, some Greek-style yoghurt can be served on the side so that each diner can add to taste on top of the stuffed vine leaves. I also like to add some extra lemon juice on these on my plate.


“Committee - a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours.” - Milton Berle

I’ve had a very busy today, most of it taken up by two meetings, one of which was a monumental one lasting for five hours. Although there was a short break in the middle of it, at the end I was completely exhausted. Fortunately, all went well, including my presentation. I attend many meetings as part of my job and generally, if I am chairing them I try to make them short, efficient and keep them to the points set down on the agenda. However, a couple of meetings that are chaired by other people tend to drag on. I delicately try to speed things up, but one has to be respectful of the chair and one’s fellow committee members.

My 6:18 a.m. train this morning was 25 minutes late because of weather-related problems at the station before mine. Consequently, I got in later than normal at work, at about 7:15 a.m. and I was surprised at how much later than usual it seemed to me. By the time I was ready to go home, it was raining, cold and quite dark. When I got home this evening it was 6:30 p.m., which made for a 12-hour day.

This is the second day of bad weather we have been having, with yesterday afternoon and evening thunderstorms dumping nearly 5 cm of rain on the City, making it the wettest September day in Melbourne for many decades. Airlines were still working extra hard today trying to clear the backlog of passengers at Melbourne Airport, many of whom had slept overnight at the terminal while flight departures were suspended. It’s still raining tonight, but at least no thunder and lightning – Spring with teeth bared!

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah starts on the first day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, and is sometimes called the Day of Remembrance or the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar. Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest days of the year for many Jewish Australians. Some Jewish communities celebrate the event for two days, while others celebrate it for one day.

Jewish New Year is the time when God reviews and judges a person’s deeds in the past year, according to Jewish belief. It is also a time to look ahead with hope, and for personal growth and reflection. Some people visit cemeteries on the eve of the holiday to pay their respects to deceased loved ones.

Many Jewish families gather for special meals to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which commences at nightfall the day before the actual holiday. The celebrations begin after the evening prayer, when family and friends join in to reflect on the past and make a fresh start for the New Year. The challah bread, pomegranates, and apples dipped in honey, and carrot stew are popular dishes during Rosh Hashanah. Some people eat fish during Rosh Hashanah, while others abstain from fish.

Many Jewish Australians spend their time in the synagogue at some stage during Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is blown like a trumpet in the synagogue during this time of the year. Another activity that occurs during Rosh Hashanah is performing the casting ritual (tashlikh), which involves reciting prayers near naturally flowing water and “throwing sins away” (for example, in the form of bread pieces).  Some people of Jewish faith may take the day off work or organise time off during this time of the year, to observe the belief that no work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah.

The challah bread, which is eaten during Rosh Hashana, symbolises the continuity of life. The apples that are dipped in honey symbolise sweetness and good health throughout the New Year. Some people also eat fish heads, which symbolize their desire to be on top, not the bottom, of life in the New Year. Pomegranates symbolize an abundance of goodness and happiness. The shofar reminds people that God allowed Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead of Abraham’s son, Isaac. The tashlikh is an act that symbolises throwing one’s sins in the water, so people believe that they are freed from their sins.

Happy Rosh Hashanah to my Jewish readers!

shofar |ˈSHōfər, SHōˈfär| noun ( pl. shofars or shofroth |SHōˈfrōt, -ˈfrōs| )
A ram’s-horn trumpet used by ancient Jews in religious ceremonies and as a battle signal, now sounded at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
ORIGIN: From Hebrew šōp̱ār, (plural) šōp̱ārōṯ.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


“Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.” - Charlotte Brontë

Magpie Tales stimulates the creativity of her followers weekly by choosing an image, which fires the imagination and results in a swathe of poems and short prose pieces in its succession. This week the image was dark and evocative of witchery and the black arts. It appears that this image was very popular with Magpie’s readers as there seem to be a large number of participants!

Here is my contribution – a sad story of love and trust betrayed, with a terrible vengeance wrought, complete with a spell in an arcane tongue of my own invention. Now if you are to use this spell, do so wisely for it is full of terrible power and can wreak great havoc! Enjoy this week’s tales of mystery and imagination as the supernatural never ceases to fascinate most of us and come to think of it, it has repeatedly stimulated the creation of some good stories, poems, paintings, drawings and other flights of the imagination!

The Vengeful Spell

“Aléa bánna dítta zom
Perés ambón maréa dom;
Filíz anés pería mar,
Andrôn mané cadíz a dar…”

She rises tall and speaks the spell
Her figure dark, her hair so long.
Her raven black, hearkens the knell
Of distant bell and silvern gong.

“Adél, períz calón gervain
Marísen por, felón fervain!
Adár, cadíz pería star,
Gedrón pané filíz azar.”

Her fury matched by lashing rain
Her tearful face all haggard, drawn.
Her spell a terrible refrain
Her voice resounding till dawn.

“Callé, alíz perfór allón,
Deníz, mané seníl a son.
Senné filíz adór selím
Pané ranné cadén a plim.”

He left, she cried; alone, bereft;
He fled at night, his sojourn brief –
He cheated her with wiles so deft,
He robbed her love as would a thief.

“Aléa bánna dítta zom
Perés ambón maréa dom;
Filíz anés pería mar,
Andrôn mané cadíz a dar…”

His hours short each second’s fleet
Her spell is cast, and now complete.
The raven rises, quickly flies
The faithless lover gasps and dies.

The woman smiles her work’s all done
Her witch within the spell has spun.
With frightful magic she’s avenged;
The wrongs he’s done are now revenged.


“Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! We return.” - E M Forster

I am in Sydney for the day for work and I have had an interesting, full day once again, very busy, but at the same time quite satisfying. This is largely because of several good meetings, but also because of a successful audit by the government regulators. I did not have much time to myself nor did I get a chance to go out into the City at all (hopes of a lunch off-campus were rather unrealistic!), however, much work did get done, which was the whole point of the trip in to Sydney after all!

Our Campus is directly opposite the Sydney Central Railway station, which is a very central location and easily accessible by public transport, buses as well as trains. Furthermore, it is so easy to get to and from the airport via the airport train. This is not only an economical way of travelling, but it also is the easiest and fastest way to get to the City from the airport. A very convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to catching a taxi into the City.

The Central Railway Station (also known as Sydney Terminal) is the largest railway station in Sydney, but also the largest in Australia. It is located on the southern end of the Sydney CBD and it services almost all of the lines on the CityRail network (all except the Cumberland line). It is the major terminus for inter-urban and interstate rail services, 27-32 trains per hour each way, and additional trains during weekday peak hours. Central Station houses the operations of New South Wales Railways and sits beside Railway Square, officially located in Haymarket. Central is the station closest to the University of Technology Sydney at Broadway.

The building is a Sydney icon and is definitely one of my favourite old buildings in the Sydney CBD. Despite its name, Central Station has never been at a central location within Sydney. It has however long been central to the operations of New South Wales Railways. The remoteness of “Central” from the true commercial hub of Sydney stimulated the construction of the Sydney underground railways at an earlier date than the equivalent in Melbourne, where all of the main stations were in the CBD.

There have been three railway stations on the current site. The original Sydney Station was opened on 26 September 1855 in an area known as “Cleveland Fields”. This station (one wooden platform in a corrugated iron shed), which was known at the time as Redfern, had Devonshire Street as its northern boundary. When this station became inadequate for the traffic it carried, a new station was built in 1874 on the same site and also was known as Redfern. This was a brick building with two platforms. It grew to 14 platforms before it was replaced by the present-day station to the north of Devonshire Street. The new station was built on a site previously occupied by a cemetery, a convent, a female refuge, a police barracks, a parsonage, a Benevolent Society and a morgue! This new 15-platform station was opened on 4 August 1906 and is still in use.

The Western Mail train that arrived in Sydney at 5:50am on 5 August 1906 went straight into the new station. Devonshire Street, which separated the two stations, became a pedestrian underpass to allow people to cross the railway line and is now known by many as the Devonshire St Tunnel. Sydney station has expanded since 1906 in an easterly direction. A 75-metre Gothic revival clock tower was added at the north-western corner of the station on 3 March 1921. This tower is currently draped in hessian to cover the scaffolding that is allowing restoration work to proceed.

Central Station as it stands currently is probably better thought of as two separate, but adjacent, railway stations. In the days of steam, the station was regarded as being divided into “steam” and “electric” parts. The western (“steam”) half of Central Station, which was formerly known as “Sydney Terminal” and is often referred to as such by Sydneysiders (although it is no longer the official name), comprises 15 terminal platforms and was opened in 1906. This section is dominated by a large vaulted roof over the concourse and elaborate masonry composed primarily of sandstone, the most common rock in the Sydney region. This western section is popularly known as the country platforms, even though only four platforms are commonly used for long-distance trains. Most of the 15 platforms are used for CityRail's intercity services that terminate at Central, also known as Sydney Terminal.

The eastern (“suburban” or “electric”) part of Central Station, formerly known as “Central Electric”, consists of 12 through platforms, four of which are underground. These platforms are used by suburban CityRail services, and by a limited number of through intercity services during peak hours. The eight above-ground platforms were opened in 1926 as part of a large electrification and modernisation program aimed at improving Sydney’s suburban railway services. The four underground platforms were built as part of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Construction commenced in 1948 but the underground railway line was not finished until 1979. While the plans called for four platforms, two were found to be not needed and are currently used as archival storage by the New South Wales Railways.

The architect of the Central Station was Walter Liberty Vernon, who worked on the plans from 1904 to 1906, while the terminal building was designed by George McRae, who finished its construction in 1921. The style is Federation Free Classical, an energetic vibrant and confident Edwardian Australian genre. Stone, steel and glass are freely used in the construction and the whole complex is reminiscent of large railway stations of the period in most major cities around the world. The building is a lovely reminder of Sydney’s history, yet bursting at the seam with life and vitality, contributing to the vibrancy of the City’s atmosphere. It is a wonderful building to view from our Campus windows, not to mention its usefulness as a public transport hub!

Sunday, 25 September 2011


“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death” - Albert Einstein

We watched a DVD that we bought at a market at the weekend. I had been looking for this film on and off whenever I remembered it, as I had heard a lot about it, and I had found it once in a DVD shop, but at $36 I was not going to buy it. At about a quarter of the price, it was much more attractive to buy at the market, and we finally got to watch it! I am glad that we did, although I can now understand why the comments I heard about the film were a little controversial. It is a typical “European Art Film”, which description would put many viewers off straight away! The other thing that may put off some people is that it won two prizes at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991, and several other international film critics’ prizes – that is another negative for many!

The 1991 film is Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “La Double Vie de Véronique” (The Double Life of Veronica). This is a Polish/French production and it stars the youthful and luminous Iréne Jacob who for this role won the best actress prize in Cannes. She is supported by a Polish/French cast and the film is set in both Krakow, Poland and Paris, France. As the title suggests, Iréne plays a double role, the Polish Weronika and the French Véronique. The whole film is based on the premise of the Doppelgänger (an apparition or double of a living person). Weronika and Véronique never meet, although their paths cross once, but their lives show some curious intermingling and amazing connections.

The film operates on many levels and can be interpreted in a variety of ways, as its texture is rich and the story simple enough. However, it is full of beautiful images, complex incident and overlapping viewpoints. The personality of the two Veronicas is quite different, yet they do share many sensitivities and their interactions with the other characters provide much to explore for the viewer. The film is slow and the lack of a forward driving storyline with a definite introduction, build-up to a climax and a strong dénouement will put many people off. However, it is an engaging film where the viewer shares in the creative process and just like one of those “join-the-dot” pictures, it is only when all the dots are joined that the final picture is revealed. It is the viewer who needs to join the dots in this film (and some of the harsh critics may say that the viewer has to number the dots as well!).

Weronika in Krakow is a very talented singer who also has a heart condition. She decides to become a professional singer and is successful in her audition to join a prestigious choir as a soloist. Véronique in Paris is a musician also, but on a whim decides to abandon her singing lessons and prospects of a professional career, and rather continues teaching (rather untalented) children the rudiments of music. Her life seems to be the complete opposite of Weronika’s, and this is also seen when one life ends tragically, while another continues rather more optimistically. As one may suspect, music plays a key role in the film and the music score is quite beautiful, written by composer Zbigniew Preisner who has collaborated with Kieslowski before in his “Three Colours” trilogy, especially so in the remarkable “Three Colours: Blue” with Juliette Binoche.

Weronika sings an amazing solo in her first performance and this is the beginning of the second Canto of Dante’s Paradiso:
“O voi che siete in piccioletta barca,
desiderosi d’ascoltar, seguiti dietro
al mio legno che cantando varca,
Non vi mettete in pelago, ché forse,
perdendo me, rimarreste smarriti.
L’ acqua ch’ io prendo giá mai non si corse;
Minerva spira è conducemi Appollo
 è nove Muse mi dimostran l’ Orse.”
- Dante, Paradiso, II, 1-9.

“O Ye, who in some pretty little boat,
Eager to listen, have been following
Behind my ship, that singing sails along,
Turn back to look again upon your shores;
Do not put out to sea, lest peradventure,
In losing me, you might yourselves be lost.
The sea I sail has never yet been passed;
Minerva breathes, and pilots me Apollo,
And Muses nine point out to me the Bears.”

Dante describes the ascent to heaven and Iréne Jakob really looks angelic as she sings the soaring verses. It is easy to see how she became Kieslowski’s muse (she starred again in his “Three Colours: Red” of 1994). This scene together with some others relating to stars, and Veronica’s name itself, have prompted some to interpret the film on a Christian theme (I had difficulty with this interpretation). Others view it more as an existentialist flibbertigibbet that can be seen as substantial or as lightweight as one cares to make it.

The cinematography is stunning and the use of colour quite beautiful. The film presages the “Three Colours” in this respect and one can see the germs of ideas that Kieslowski incubated in order to arrive at the later films (1993/4). The full colour interspersed with an almost sepia effect, the dated, almost hand-tinted look and the images of almost no colour at all push and pull us into the story and propel the narrative forward. The scenes with the performances of the marionettes has a pivotal role in Véronique’s discovery of herself and the discovery of her double, but is also catalytic in moving her life forward.

An enjoyable, memorable film, deceptively simple on first viewing, but I am sure can be seen again to discover yet more hidden more depths. I don’t generally like seeing films again, but this one I would enjoy seeing again next year. Come to think of it, it’s time I watched “Three Colours: Blue” again!


“Dutch tulips from their beds, Flaunted their stately heads.” - James Montgomery

Today we went to the Tulip Festival in Silvan, in the Dandenongs, which is an annual event held at Tesselaar’s Bulb Farm. The paddocks had burst into bloom with over a 150 different tulip varieties on display and over a million spring flowering bulbs. It was a glorious Spring day and the Festival was very well attended with hundreds of people filing through and admiring the fields of spring bulbs, but especially so the tulips, of course. The Dutch Tesselaar family has had a nursery business since 1939 and they have become one of the prime bulb nurseries here in Victoria. It was a fantastic display of blooms, which inspired today’s Art Sunday offering.

Frenchman Claude Monet (1840 –1926) was the prime exponent of impressionism and his oeuvre is replete with colourful canvases, many of which have flowers as a theme. During a visit to The Hague in the Spring of 1886, Monet painted the tulip fields close to Sassenheim, between Leiden and Lisse. Prominent in these polders is the archetypal feature of Dutch landscapes, windmills! Monet was enchanted by the tulip fields and windmills, but as he communicated to his friends, he found the vibrancy and colour of the tulip fields maddening to render on canvas.

Born in Paris, the son of a grocer, Monet grew up in Le Havre. Contact with Eugène Boudin in about 1856 introduced Monet to painting from nature. He was in Paris in 1859 and three years later he entered the studio of Charles Gleyre, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frédéric Bazille. Edouard Manet was an influence on his figure compositions of the 1860s, while the informal style of his later landscapes originated in works such as 'Bathers at La Grenouillère', painted in 1869 when Monet worked with Renoir at Bougival.

Monet was the leading French Impressionist landscape painter. Like Camille Pissarro and Charles-François Daubigny, Monet moved to London during the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871). After his return to France he lived at Argenteuil (1871- 1878). He exhibited in most of the Impressionist exhibitions, beginning in 1874, where the title of one of his paintings led to the naming of the movement. A period of travel followed in the 1880s, and in 1883 he acquired a property at Giverny, north-west of Paris. Thereafter Monet concentrated on the production of the famous series showing a single subject in different lighting conditions, including poplars, haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, and his own garden at Giverny.