For Monet, painting water was a grand obsession and he was quick to have a boat built and equipped with a semi-enclosed cabin that he could use as a studio in which to sit and paint. In the summer of 1874, Monet and his friends Édouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir spent many pleasant hours drifting along the Seine near Argenteuil, painting each other’s portraits and capturing the rustic idyll of their surrounds. In 1887, the American artists John Singer Sargent and Theodore Robinson and the sculptor Auguste Rodin were invited to join him on painting excursions when he took the studio boat out. By this time the Monet family had moved further along the Seine to the town of Giverny. A glorious painting in the exhibition, Field of yellow irises at Giverny, dates from this period. It is easy to imagine Monet and his friends stopping along the riverbank to paint this field of flowers in full bloom.