Claude Monet (1840-1926) is a world famous French painter who made a great contribution to development of impressionism style in France and other countries.
Impressionism style used by Monet, presupposed generating an image of the future painting in his mind and transforming it into an actual painting through a plenty of small colored brush strokes. As a rule, colors remained pure and not mixed with each other, except for the areas where one color overlays the other in order to create an animated effect on the painting.
“For instance, Monet’s water consists of many, many layered brush strokes of different colors to show how the outdoor light is reflected from its surface. Monet painted the sky with patches of soft round color in a variety of blues and greens”.
Monet strived to show the beauty of nature through various light and color effects on his paintings and certainly succeeded in this art, being an author of multiple landscape painting masterpieces.
“As one of the great leaders of the Impressionism movement in France, Monet studied the ways in which outdoor light plays upon nature, creating a very animated effect on his canvas”. Like most other paintings in impressionism style, those painted by Monet were not either precise or extremely naturalistic, however it is obvious what the objects are. He rather showed an impression of the objects, a mood that they create in one’s mind and his images look more definite and complete if seen at a distance.
“The Seine at Giverny”, 1897
Painting “The Seine at Giverny”, 1897, oil on canvas, is on the display at the West Building of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Its size is 81.5 x 100.5 cm (32 1/16 x 39 9/16 in.), framed: 102.6 x 121.6 x 9.5 cm (40 3/8 x 47 7/8 x 3 3/4 in.). It belongs to the Chester Dale Collection of the US National Gallery of Art.
In the years between 1860 and 1889 Monet painted Seine River very often. Six paintings in the National Gallery of Art in Washington are the images of Seine at different weather and seasons. He moved from Paris to the village of Giverny in 1883 and started to explore Seine near his country home several years later. “Lured by the lifting haze and quickly changing light of early morning, he often rose before sunrise — at 3:30 a.m. — to be at his easel by dawn. He worked from a flat-bottomed boat tied up near the bank” (Spate, 2001). Series of Seine paintings were only started outdoors, but in fact artist finished them at the studio after months of work. Monet paid special attention to showing light effects on the water reflection and their changes, depending on the certain time of day.
Seine on this particular painting is shown at the early morning. “The paint here, although it is often thickly applied on the canvas, gives the impression of transparency, like thin veils of mist. This envelope of atmosphere unifies the picture with a vaporous luminosity. Rather than focus on the trees, the line of the water, or sky, Monet subsumes these individual shapes to a soft light that is the painting’s true subject”. Canvas texture acts as a perfect natural weave for the brushstrokes that imitate water surface.
Some art critics consider the “Seine At Giverny” to be the most beautiful of all the Monet’s series of Seine paintings. The painting basically consists of two parts. There is an almost still water surface with trees reflection on the right and actual trees in dark and dull green on the right. The sky is painted in misty pink, so as its reflection in the water. Virtual vanishing point is located horizontally close to the center of image and on the right side vertically. Overall impression of the image is peaceful, a bit nostalgic and mystique.
“Banks of the Seine, Vétheuil”, 1880
Monet’s painting “Banks of the Seine, Vetheuil”, dated 1880, oil on canvas, which is on display at the West Building of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., is a perfect example of his outstanding landscape style, that he is best known for nowadays. Painting’s size is 73.4 x 100.5 cm (28 7/8 x 39 9/16 in.), framed: 100.3 x 127.6 x 9.5 cm (39 1/2 x 50 1/4 x 3 3/4 in.) and it belongs to Chester Dale Collection like “The Seine at Giverny”, described above.
“During the early years of impressionism, one of Monet’s primary intentions was to capture fleeting effects of light and atmosphere. Working quickly, out of doors, he sought to transcribe with directness and spontaneity his sensory experience of the landscape before him”. This picture is painted before the other one, described in this paper, however talented artist always displayed an interest in painting water surface and different reflection effects. Due to this interest he studied various ways of depicting water that resulted to the series of pictures, aimed at showing the same river in different color schemes and from different perspectives that would together create harmonious and unified image of the well-known French river.
“Monet wanted to represent a single moment of light and evoke feelings and emotions about the power of Nature. His deliberate division of subjects also leads the eye naturally from one plane to another — he began with detailed concentration on the flowers in the meadow which lead us into the water of the pond, then to the trees and shrubs in the background, and then into the sky above”.
“Here, brushstrokes vary in response to the different textures they portray — contrast, for example, the quick horizontal skips in the river’s gently rippled surface with the rounder, swirling forms of the sky. But it is the foreground, where thick grasses and flowers are painted with crowded, exuberant strokes that draw our attention”. Most likely artist made multiple paint layers shown on the picture indoors, carefully applying different colors one by one in the studio. The brush strokes in impressionism technique are often used as a decorative element for emphasizing surface or texture of the objects. This painting is a good example of multiple strokes that create a unique effect on the water surface. Nevertheless, Monet always strived to be realistic in describing Mother Nature that truly was his greatest source of inspiration.