In this triptych Monet depicted his Japanese-style pond covered with water lilies, at center, shimmering with reflections of clouds overhead. The water's surface fills the expansive composition so that conventional clues to the artist's—and the viewer's—vantage point are eliminated. Monet wished for the paintings to encompass the viewer: in his designs for the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, he specified that the Water Lily canvases be displayed on curved walls.
The aim of his large Water Lilies paintings, Monet said, was to supply "the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon or bank." While his garden in Giverny, his water-lily pond, and the sky above are the subjects of this monumental triptych, his representation of them can be seen to verge toward abstraction. In the attempt to capture the constantly changing qualities of natural light and color, spatial cues all but dissolve; above and below, near and far, water and sky all commingle. In his enveloping, large-scale canvases Monet sought to create "the refuge of a peaceful meditation in the center of a flowering aquarium." (moma)