Like Cliff Walk at Pourville (Claude Monet, 1896), Water lilies was added to the collections of the Alphonse-Georges Poulain Museum through a donation.
Alphonse-Georges Poulain (1875-1966), voluntary curator at the Museum from 1922 to 1966, was behind it: he apparently contacted Claude Monet to ask him to donate one of his canvasses to the town of Vernon.
As a matter of fact, Monet and Poulain, who was both a local artist and scholar, had previously corresponded on small exhibitions that the latter was organizing in the Department and he had appealed unsuccessfully to the "master" to lend him some of his works.
In a letter Monet wrote to A.-G. Poulain on April 28, 1924, he specified: "(...) you can come and fetch the one [canvas] I intend to give you, the day it suits you", which implies a previous agreement between the two men. The following day, however, Monet seemed more hesitant and asked for a little time before donating the intended canvas to the town: "(...) you can assure the Mayor that the Vernon Museum will have a canvas from me. I only ask one thing, and that is a little time, as I am busy at the moment, but it is agreed".
(Letters from Claude Monet to Alphonse-Georges Poulain, April 28 and 29, 1924, private collection).
The artist perhaps agreed to this donation as a token of the links he had gradually built up with Vernon: it was here that his children and step-children went to school, and it was from its railway station that many of his works were sent to Paris, thus keeping in touch with the capital’s market.
More than a year after this correspondence, Alphonse-Georges Poulain was charged with fetching the canvas Monet intended to give to Giverny. Apparently, the visit went well, with the "master" even particularly affable that day.