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Argenteuil and Impressionism

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Argenteuil and Impressionism

The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War ( July 18, 1870) found Claude Monet at Le Havre, where he remained as that fateful summer wore on. On September 2 came the German breakthrough at Sedan; Napoleon III capitulated and on September 4 the Third Republic was proclaimed. Leaving Camille and little Jean in Normandy, Monet sailed for England in September. Bazille volunteered for the Zouaves and joined a line regiment in August (he was killed in action at Beaune-la-Rolande on November 28).

Manet, as a confirmed republican, waited for the Empire to collapse and then enlisted (as did Degas) in an artillery unit of the National Guard. Pissarro, living at Louveciennes, found himself in the path of the advancing Germans and fled to England, leaving behind hundreds of his pictures together with many that Monet had stored with him. Torn from their frames and used as floor-mats and aprons by the Prussian soldiery, who turned his house into the regimental butchershop, all were destroyed — an irreparable loss, depriving us of by far the greater part of Pissarro’s pre-1870 output and a substantial part of Monet’s. To these losses, in the case of Monet, must be added the many canvases which he himself ripped to shreds in fits of despair or to prevent their being seized by his creditors.

Things went no better for him in London than in France. The English public showed complete indifference to his work. He submitted some pictures to an exhibition at the Royal Academy, but they were rejected. He had the good luck, however, to run into Daubigny, who introduced him to his own dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, also a refugee in London, who had opened a gallery at 158 Bond Street. This meeting was providential not only for Monet but also for Pissarro, who met Durand-Ruel at the same time. “Without him we’d have starved to death in London,” he wrote later. But in spite of his enthusiasm for their work and his persistence in bringing it to public notice, Durand-Ruel failed to sell a single one of their pictures in England. He nevertheless went on buying canvases from Monet and Pissarro, and thus enabled them to keep afloat.

Monet made several views of the Thames in addition to some studies in Hyde Park in which the figures are very roughly silhouetted against a simplified landscape composed of broad, flat planes of color. Pissarro tells of their visits to the museums and how much they were impressed by the English landscape painters, by Constable and Turner in particular. Monet later denied that he had been influenced by Turner at that time, and indeed it is only in the much later series of fog effects on the Thames ( 1904) that Turner’s influence becomes apparent.

In the summer of 1871 Monet left England for Holland, where he painted some landscapes in which the mighty forms of windmills, outlined against the immensity of the sky above the canals in the foreground, are treated in a free, sparkling style very much like that of his Trouville seascapes of 1870.

Life had gone back to normal in Paris now and artists were returning to their old haunts. The group that had formed around Manet in the late sixties now formed again, but this time it centered on Monet. Even before his military service, as early as 1859, Monet had met Pissarro at the Académie Suisse; after his discharge from the army, at Gleyre’s studio in 1862, he had met Renoir, Bazille and Sisley. Monet thus formed the link between the group at Gleyre’s and the group at the Académie Suisse, where Pissarro had been joined by Cézanne and Guillaumin.

In December 1871 Monet settled at Argenteuil, on the western outskirts of Paris. After a visit to Le Havre in the spring of 1872, he left for Holland, eager to rework a vein that had proved so fruitful in the previous year. It is difficult to distinguish between the pictures made during these two stays in Holland, few of them being dated. Assignable to 1872, however, are those which foreshadow the fully developed technique of his Argenteuil period, those, in other words, in which we find a breaking-up of color into a patchwork of small brushstrokes and a new emphasis on atmospheric vibration.

In the autumn of 1872 Monet returned to Argenteuil where he lived for the next six years, with occasional expeditions to Paris, as is proved by two views of the Boulevard des Capucines in winter. He saw much of Renoir and they often worked together on the Seine banks. Monet’s first river scenes, in 1872-1873, were still built up in separate, unblended strokes and patches of color. A good example is Pleasure Boats which, enclosed in a triple frame with a Sisley and a Pissarro, forms a triptych bequeathed to the Louvre by Monsieur May.

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Monet Series of Regattas: Sailboat at Argenteuil

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Monet Series of Regattas: Sailboat at Argenteuil

In the series of Regattas, painted from his boat, slight stylistic differences are discernible from picture to picture. These reveal a rather subtle line of evolution, but a significant one.

Sailboat at Argenteuil ( Bravington Collection), tacking with all sails set across the Seine, represents the next step after Pleasure Boats (May Collection). It is handled like the latter, with the paint swept on broadly in thin coats, but the strokes of the brush are no longer quite so separate and distinct as they are in Pleasure Boats; instead of being juxtaposed and contrasting with each other, planes tend to fuse and intermingle. Regatta in Fine Weather ( Caillebotte Collection, Louvre) marks a further stage.

Reflections on the water are no longer rendered in molten dabs of color, but in straight, horizontal, distinctly separate brushstrokes. These strokes, however, are larger than those in Regatta in Gray Weather (Camondo Collection, Louvre). Here, in order to render choppy water ruffled by the wind, Monet dabbed on his paints in small, flickering touches that convey an effect of movement and agitation, and though motivated by circumstances (i.e. the state of the weather) they nevertheless mark a further step in his increasing concern with effects of atmospheric vibration.

In each of these pictures he never failed to adapt his technique to the nature of the scene before him. Sky, water, trees, sails, houses, no two of these things are treated in the same way. The brushstroke is adjusted in every case to the visual impression, which in turn depends not only on light conditions but on the form and texture of the object or element in question.

During the summer Monet was so completely engrossed in nautical subjects that he apparently found time for only one rural landscape: Springtime ( Berlin), a masterpiece of sunny airiness, painted with the utmost simplicity in flat colors. At the approach of winter his thoughts turned again to the open country and he made some snowscapes, mostly handled in thin coats of modulated color (for example, Train in the Snow, Musée Marmottan, Paris, dated 1875), sometimes in a thick impasto, but always smoothly brushed on, without any division of color.

As a result of the severe winters of the early seventies (borne out by his snowscapes), Monet felt the pinch more than ever and, to make things worse, there seemed to be no prospect of better times ahead, for the “incomprehensible” novelty of his painting only widened the breach between him and the public. With his stout physique Monet could bear the hardships of cold and hunger, but his wife’s frail health was permanently injured. His painter friends were Monet’s only resource, but the whole group was faring badly.

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Impression, Sunrise Art Print by Claude Monet

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Impression,Sunrise,1873 Poster
Impression,Sunrise,1873 Poster by VipMonet
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Impressionism and Claude Monet

Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) pioneered Impressionism, profoundly influencing landscape painting. From Paris, Monet met the nucleus of his Impressionist group while attending the studio of Glenyre. Making a break from established painting techniques, Monet captured the fleeting effects of time of day, atmosphere and season upon color and light.

Like a prism, his artwork broke color into individual elements, and completely lacked black and gray tones. Monet often painted the exact same view numerous times to depict changing light and weather conditions. Refining the portrayal of natural light’s transient effects, his work broke ground for 20th century modernism.

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The Road to Bas-Breau Art Print by Claude Monet

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The Road to Bas-Breau Art Print by Claude Monet

the road to bas-breau art print, french art, french impressionism, impressionist posters, claude monet, claude monet artworks, landscape paintings, giclee prints, bridgeman art library

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Claude Monet and Sunflowers Art Print

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Sunflowers by Claude Monet Print
Sunflowers by Claude Monet by LeAnnS123
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Sunflowers by Claude Monet

On the days Claude Monet could not go outside and paint, he stayed inside and painted still-lifes. He always enthusiastically embraced the outdoors and “plein-air” painting in order to study the change of light outdoors.

But when he painted his sunflowers he must have brought the outdoors inside as they are filled with the energy of the wind and the colors of the outdoor lights.

It isn’t known if Van Gogh ever saw Monet’s “Sunflowers” painting. In one week Van Gogh had painted four sunflower paintings with extreme enthusiasm. Van Gogh liked to study the harmony of the color of the flowers together with the background colors. Yellow may have been Van Gogh’s favorite color because it helped him feel more cheerful and less depressed.

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