Developments in the 19th Century



 




Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map


 





The Impressionism



 



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Claude Monet






 

 


Public Disapproval
 


At first, Impressionist paintings were not favourably received. To the conservative Parisian public, they appeared unfinished, like mere impromptu sketches. Traditionalists were not about to forgive the artists for what they saw as the destruction of traditional, aesthetic ideals and the introduction of the coarse vulgarity of everyday life into art, without any qualms about the value of their subject matter. In their large canvases, painted en pleiu air, the Impressionists depicted picturesque and sentimental subjects in their paintings. It was therefore difficult for the spectator to find any real "message" in the images. Initially, the Impressionists were disliked by art critics - Leroy used the term "Impressionist" with derision rather than admiration - and were unpopular with the conservative regime of Napoleon III. Having been rejected by the Salon, they exhibited in the Salon des Refuses at the adjacent Palais de l'lndustrie in 1863, which had been founded by the emperor himself. Attention was focused on the then scandalous, but today highly admired, Dejeuner sur l'herbe by Manet, the work that inspired Monet to start painting his large, unfinished work of the same name in 1865. In 1873, the Impressionists were again forced to exhibit at the Salon des Refuses, hanging their works beside mediocre paintings, because the official Salon remained stubbornly hostile to anything new. In 1874, the Impressionists organized their own exhibition, featuring a total of 165 works by 39 artists. They called themselves the Societe anonyme des artistes, peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs. Although the show was a financial failure, it was important as the group's first official event. It was held in the Paris studio of the photographer Nadar in Boulevard des Capucines and reunited the artists for the first time since they had dispersed in different directions at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). During this war, Monet, who was a fierce opponent of the regime of Napoleon III and was unwilling to sacrifice his life for the emperor, travelled to London. Here, he was joined by Sisley and Pissarro, whose home in Louveciennes had been overrun by enemy troops. Influenced by the work of Turner and Constable, Monet and, to a lesser degree, Pissarro made changes to their style. Their brushstrokes became more transparent and insubstantial and the paintings more atmospheric. Pissarro attributed this to the "plein-air, the light, and the ephemeral effects of the English landscape painters." In Monet's paintings of the River Thames and London parks, there is lightness of touch that suggests the same north European atmosphere. "I have studied the effects of mist, snow, and of spring," said Pissarro, who had adopted a freer style, with light, rapid brushstrokes. ''Without fog, London would not be a beautiful city. It is the fog that gives it its magnificence," wrote Monet, when he stayed in London. He was to return to the city in 1899 and in the winters of the next two years.
 


A New View of Nature

With the advent of Impressionism, the representation of historical subjects lost its supremacy. For these artists, nature was their true mistress: they immersed themselves in it and its visual experience.
Monet's beautiful garden at Giverny constituted a world of its own, one that he painted many times before his death in 1926, depicting the leafy branches, delicate little bridges, and waterlilies. With their thousand gradations of colour and skilful shading and toning, the Impressionists painted that which by definition could not be painted - for the simple reason that it was not physically visible, for example the quality of the air - its dampness or its crispness. Even tangible elements no longer existed, except in terms of the aura that defined them at a particular moment in time. For example, in Monet's famous series of 30 canvases of Rouen Cathedral, painted at different times of the day. it is not the cathedral that provides the focal interest but the intensity of light and its effects on the stone. The Impressionists felt that art should be appreciated with all the senses, and they concentrated on the presence of deep sensations rather than the cold reality of a scene. Consequently, psychological perceptions became more important than the "real" subject matter, and the content came to be replaced by visual "impressions" of all that the senses could perceive. The colours, reflections, and chiaroscuro that characterize Monet's cathedral series are not there to be seen; they have never existed in reality but are psychological reactions. Whoever looks at these pictures, however, considers the blues, greys, and golds as very true and real in terms of the overall impression they create. Each painter re-created reality according to his or her own perception. This meant that not only did painting no longer have a message to communicate, but that the traditional means of sending that message were also lost. It is in the boldness of these intentions, and in the invention of a pictorial code that could put them into practice, that the extraordinary modernity of Impressionism lies. In Monet's series of paintings of the River Thames and haystacks, in the geometric-sequences of poplars, and in the various facades of Rouen Cathedral, any substance seems to be dispersed by a thousand vibrations. White clouds in the sky, piles of snow along the Seine, ice, mist, and fog are all aspects of nature shown in the very act of dissolving - mirroring a fragile, constantly changing world. Representation lost the natural vestiges that, at the end of the Romantic movement, kept it anchored to reality. In its place came Monet's sunrise, no longer the sun rising, but something quite different - an "impression" of the sun rising.
 

 

CLAUDE-OSCAR MONET

Monet held his first exhibition in Rouen, aged 16, before furthering his studies and gaining an apprenticeship in Paris. His friends included Renoir, Bazille, Sisley, and Pissarro, whom he met in London in 1871. While there, struck by Turners paintings, he developed the technique of dividing colour into shades. After his death, he was seen as the initiator of some of the most avant-garde experiments of the 19th and 20th centuries, not least for his series paintings, in which he repeatedly interpreted the same subject: haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, waterlilies, and poplars.

 

 

 


Claude Monet

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born November 14, 1840, Paris, France
died December 5, 1926, Giverny


in full Oscar-Claude Monet French painter who was the initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style. In his mature works, Monet developed his method of producing repeated studies of the same motif in series, changing canvases with the light or as his interest shifted. These series were frequently exhibited in groups—for example, his images of haystacks (1891) and the Rouen Cathedral (1894). At his home in Giverny, Monet created the water-lily pond that served as inspiration for his last series of paintings. His popularity soared in the second half of the 20th century, when his works traveled the world in museum exhibitions that attracted record-breaking crowds and marketed popular commercial items featuring imagery from his art.

Childhood and early works

When Claude, the eldest son of Adolphe Monet, a grocer, was five years old, the family moved to the Normandy coast,near Le Havre, where his father took over the management ofhis family's thriving ship-chandlering and grocery business. This event has more than biographical significance, for it was Monet's childhood, spent along the beaches, and the intimate knowledge he gained of the sea and the rapidly shifting Norman weather, that would one day give rise to his fresh vision of nature. Monet's first success as an artist came when he was 15, with the sale of caricatures that were carefully observed and well drawn. In these early years he also executed pencil sketches of sailing ships, which were almost technical in their clear descriptiveness. His aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre, was an amateur painter, and, perhaps at her suggestion, Claude went to study drawing with a localartist. But his life as a painter did not begin until he was befriended by Eugène Boudin, who introduced the somewhatarrogant student to the practice—then uncommon—of painting in the open air. The experience set the direction for Monet, who for more than 60 years would concentrate on visible phenomena and on the innovation of effective methods to transform perception into pigment.

Although oil landscapes had been painted at least since the 16th century, they usually were produced in the studio—recollections, rather than direct impressions, of observations of nature. The English painters John Constable and J.M.W. Turner made small oil sketches out-of-doors before 1810, but it is unlikely that Monet knew these studies. He first visited Paris in 1859–60, where he was impressed by the work of the Barbizon-school painters Charles Daubigny and Constant Troyon. To his family's annoyance, he refused to enroll in the École des Beaux-Arts. Instead, he frequented the haunts of advanced artists and worked at the Académie Suisse, where he met Camille Pissarro. This informal training was interrupted by a call to military service; he served from 1861 to 1862 in Algeria, where he was excited by the African light and colour. Monet's choice of Algeria for service was perhaps a result ofhis admiration for the Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix, whose colouristic work had been influenced by a visit to Morocco in 1832.

In 1862 Monet returned to Le Havre, perhaps because of illness, and again painted the sea with Boudin, while also meeting the Dutch marine painter Johan Barthold Jongkind. Later that year he continued to study in Paris, this time with the academician Charles Gleyre, in whose atelier he met the artists Frédéric Bazille, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. After disagreements with their master, the group departed for the village of Chailly-en-Bière, near Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau. It was also during this period—orat least before 1872—that Monet discovered Japanese prints, the decorativeness and flatness of which were to have a strong influence on the development of modern painting in France.

The exceptional achievements of Monet's prolific youthful period can be measured in works completed between 1865 and 1870, before he had begun to fragment his brushstrokes into the characteristic broken touches that were to become the hallmark of Impressionist style. One of the most ambitious of these early works (which was never finished, supposedly because of negative comments by Gustave Courbet) was Déjeuner sur l'herbe (1865–66; “Luncheon on the Grass”), named after Édouard Manet's notorious paintingshown in the Salon des Refusés in 1863. In contrast to Manet's masterpiece, which was a shocking adaptation of a Renaissance visual idea to a contemporary setting, Monet'spainting, about 15 feet high by 20 feet wide, was an utterly contemporary, yet unprovocative representation of a group of fashionably dressed picnickers in the forest of Fontainebleau. Monet did share with Manet, however, a concern for representing actual scenes of modern life rather than contrived historical, romantic, or fanciful subjects. Thus,Monet's Déjeuner was an extension, by virtue of a more immediate empiricism, of the Realism of Courbet.


Impressionism, broadly viewed, was a celebration of the pleasures of middle-class life; indeed, Monet's subject matter from this period often involved domestic scenes featuring his wife, son, and garden. Yet, painting la viemoderne (“modern life”) was not to be the primary aim of Monet's art. Of more significance in his case was his ceaseless search for painterly means to implement his radical view of nature. More so than his ambitious figure paintings, such works as The River (1868) or The Beach at Sainte-Adresse (1867) give a clear accounting of Monet's advance toward the Impressionist style. In the beach and sea pictures of 1865–67 Monet was plainly not trying to reproduce faithfully the scene before him as examined in detail but rather attempting to record on the spot the impression that relaxed, momentary vision might receive—what is seen rather than what is known, with all its vitality and movement. Boats, buildings, incidental figures, and the pebble beach areswiftly brushed in as flat colour patterns, with little attention paid to their weight or solidity.


First Impressionist paintings

Monet's life during the 1860s was precarious and itinerant, and he sold almost nothing; but several works were acceptedfor exhibition in the yearly Salons, most notably, and with great success, a fine but not yet Impressionist portrait of his future wife, Camille. Having already painted in Paris, Le Havre, Chailly, Honfleur, Trouville, and Fécamp and at other stations between Paris and the sea, Monet ended the 1860s at the Seine River resort known as La Grenouillère, at Bougival, where he and Renoir worked together for the first time. In canvases almost identical in style, they made rapid notations of pleasure-seekers and bathers, rowboats bobbing in the foreground, and the scintillating reflections inthe lapping water. Regarded by Monet as “bad sketches,” they were precursors of the Impressionist style. Both artists' Bougival studies interpret the light and movement of outdoor life in strong, abbreviating strokes, improvised at the moment of perception, that serve as equivalents for visual experiences never before committed to canvas in such a direct manner. In 1870 at Trouville, in broad, assured gestures, Monet painted a study of Camille on the beach. It is as animated an example of visual realism as had ever been painted: grains of sand remain embedded in the pigment.

As the 1870s began, Monet continued his pursuit of natural phenomena. In order to avoid the Franco-German War, he lefthis son and Camille, whom he had just married, and traveled to London. There, with Pissarro, he was introduced by Daubigny to Paul Durand-Ruel, who was to become his dealer. In 1871 and 1872 he painted canals, boats, and windmills in The Netherlands and worked again at Le Havre. On his return, Monet rented a house at Argenteuil, on the Seine near Paris. The years he lived there mark the height of the Impressionist movement. He helped organize an independent exhibition, apart from the official Salon, of the Impressionists' work in 1874. Impression: Sunrise (1872), one of Monet's works at the exhibition, inspired the journalist Louis Leroy to give the group their name.

Later Impressionism

Monet's celebrated method of producing works in series, each representing the same motif under different light and weather conditions, was not fully implemented until the 1890s, but what is usually regarded as the first series was executed in or around the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris during the winter of 1876–77. A total break with the customary Impressionist subjects, these works portray the train engines belching smoke and steam in the great shed, recalling J.M.W. Turner's Rain, Steam, and Speed—The Great Western Railway of 1844 and prefiguring the mechanical subjects painted by Italian Futurists after 1909. Monet's life was less happy after he moved to Vétheuil, farther from Paris. In 1876 a liaison began between Monet and Alice Hoschedé, the wife of a department-store owner and collector. Monet had incurred a burden of debts in Argenteuil, and Camille was pregnant and ill. At Vétheuil the Monets were joined by Hoschedé, who had left her husband, and six of her children. Using funds from her dowry she assumed Monet's debts and cared for Camille, who died in September 1879.

By 1881 the original Impressionist group had begun to disintegrate, although it was still to hold two more exhibitions—the eighth and last (in which Monet did not show) in 1886, after the advent of Neo-Impressionism. Only Monet continued with the same fervour to carry on the scrutiny of nature. Among the sites he chose during the 1880s were Pourville, Étretat, Fécamp, and Varangéville in Normandy; the rugged and isolated Breton island of Belle-Île; the wild Creuse River valley; Menton and Antibes in the Midi; and Bordighera in Italy. In 1886 he made a second visit to The Netherlands, to paint the tulip fields, before important sojourns at Étretat and Belle-Île.


In 1883 Monet, Hoschedé, her children, and Monet's sons, Jean and Michel, settled at Giverny, a hamlet near Vernon, 52 miles (84 km) from Paris, on the tiny Epte River. There Monet purchased a farmhouse surrounded by an orchard, which was to be his home until his death and is now a French national monument. After the travels of the 1880s, Monet spent the '90s at or near Giverny, concentrating on one series after another.


Last years

After 1900, two ambitious projects, both far from Giverny, concluded Monet's search for new motifs. The first (for which he made at least three trips to London between 1899 and 1904) was the extensive multiple series representing the River Thames, the Waterloo and Charing Cross bridges, and the Houses of Parliament. The works—exotic coloration and mysterious romantic mood—recall the Thames paintingsof Turner and James McNeill Whistler. In these paintings it is atmosphere, more than the particularities of these structures, that is Monet's subject; buildings and bridges are less tangible than the pulsating brushstrokes that give volume to the light-filled fog and mist. The second and last ofthe architectural motifs Monet pursued was the canals and palaces of Venice. Monet began this series in 1908 and continued in 1909, although he worked on these subjects at Giverny until 1912. Venice was a perfect Impressionist subject, but the light, water, movement, architecture, and reflections in the water are more generalized in these works than the specific weather effects of the haystack and cathedral series.


In 1893 Monet had bought a strip of marshland across the road from his house and flower garden, through which flowed atributary of the Epte. By diverting this stream, he began to construct a water-lily garden. Soon weeping willows, iris, and bamboo grew around a free-form pool, clusters of lily pads and blossoms floated on the quiet water, and a Japanese bridge closed the composition at one end. By 1900 this unique product of Monet's imagination (for his Impressionism had become more subjective) was in itself a major work of environmental art—an exotic lotusland within which he was to meditate and paint for almost 30 years. The first canvases he created depicting lilies, water, and the Japanese bridge were only about one square yard, but their unprecedented open composition, with the large blossoms and pads suspended as if in space, and the azure water in which clouds were reflected, implied an encompassing environment beyond the frame. This concept of embracing spatiality, new to the history of painting and only implicit in the first water-lily paintings, unfolded during the years from 1915 until the artist's death into a cycle of huge murals to be installed in Paris in two 80-foot oval rooms in the Orangerie of the Tuileries. These were described in 1952 by the painter André Masson as “the Sistine Chapel of Impressionism.” Thiscrowning achievement of Monet's long, probing study of nature—his striving to render his impressions, as he said, “in the face of the most fugitive effects”—was not dedicated until after his death. The many large studies for the Orangerie murals, as well as other unprecedented and unique works painted in the water garden between 1916 and 1925, were almost unknown until the 1950s but are now distributed throughout the major private collections and museums of the world. Despite failing eyesight due to cataracts, Monet continued to paint almost until his death in1926.


Assessment

Although critical acclaim was slow in coming, Monet attracted the dedicated support of collectors throughout his career, most notably from Americans who discovered his work in the 1880s. His influence on other artists was wide-ranging, from his near contemporaries such as Vincent van Gogh to a diverse new generation of artists such as Émile Bernard, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and Maurice de Vlaminck. During the years 1886 to 1914, a predominantlyAmerican colony of artists gathered around him in Giverny and regarded him as an exemplar of modern French painting.They adopted his fresh palette, subject matter, and spontaneous style, eventually introducing these elements toAmerican art.

After his death, Monet's influence on contemporary art ebbed among the avant-garde, who favoured the more radical examples of artists such as van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Matisse, and Marcel Duchamp. A revival of interest in his work occurred in the early 1950s. Monet's epic scale and formal innovations influenced Abstract Expressionist painters such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, and a general scholarly reassessment of his importance began to develop. Wildly popular retrospective exhibitions of his worktoured the world during the last decades of the 20th century and established his unparalleled public appeal, sustaining his reputation as one of the most significant and popular figures in the modern Western painting tradition.

William C. Seitz
 

 

 

 

CLAUDE MONET: "GARE SAINT-LAZARE"
1877
oil on canvas
Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

Monet painted Gare Saint-Lazare many times, displaying seven variations of the subject at the Impressionist exhibition of 1877. This famous railway station held a particular appeal for the Impressionists and was a constant source of inspiration for their paintings. It was a place of movement and bustle, with its rapid interweaving of figures and forms. In practical terms, it provided a vital link between the capital and the countryside locations frequented by the artists. For Monet in particular, the sources of interest were many: the metallic structures of the buildings and trains, the transparency of the glass roof, and the turbulent effects of the smoke and steam. The central theme of this painting is not the play of light on the architecture and other elements but the way the smoke and steam interact with these strong, yet ethereal, structures.
     


Claude Monet
The Gare Saint-Lazare

 

 

WIND AND SMOKE

Capturing the most intangible elements on canvas constituted the greatest challenge for the Impressionists. For them, everything could be represented -snow. mist, fog, heat, even the way the wind made shapes in the flags of Rue Montorgueil (1878). "Why not a scene of Negroes fighting in a tunnel?", Monet asked his critics, who maintained that fog was not a suitable subject for painting. Gare Saint-Lazare, where the trains from the northern suburbs arrived - "so full of smoke as to make it barely possible to see" — provided particularly challenging material for him; he opted for an approach completely opposed to the bright, sunlit scenes of the most typical plein air art. Mistaking him for a famous painter of the Salon, the superintendent of the Western Railway gave Monet a grand welcome. He stopped all the trains, had all platforms cleared, and filled the locomotives with coal so that they could emit plenty of the artist's precious smoke.
   


Claude Monet
Gare Saint-Lazare
1877
Art Institute, Chicago

 

 

 

MONET AND WATER

The appearance of water in Monet's work varies according to the location, the light, and the weather. For example, in The Terrace at Sainte-Adresse (1867) and The Seine at Argenteuil (1875), there are rippling waves, while in Monet's first attempts at La Grenouillere (1869), the water is bright with the reflections of boats and trees. At this riverside spot, Monet and Renoir abandoned traditional, solid, compact forms in favour of fragmented brushstrokes and vibrant colours. In La Grenouillere, depth is suggested by the diminishing figures and the sharp diagonals of the boats, the restaurant, and the walkways, Monet was taking on the difficult task of combining the perspective of the buildings with the flat surface of the water. Sisley solved the problem in Flood at Port-Marly (1876) by making space almost undetectable, merging sky, earth, and water into a single mass. In his Waterlilies series, Monet went further still: the water loses its identity and can no longer be recognized, appearing thick and saturated with plant life. The absence of shore and horizon also helps give these compositions the illusion of a solid whole.
 

 


Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1916-19
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

 


Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1916-19
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

 

Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1916-19
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

 

Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1916-19
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

 

Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1916-19
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

 

Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1916-19
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

 


Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1916-19
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

 


Claude Monet
Waterlilies
1908
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 


Claude Monet
Nympheas: The Setting Sun
1916-26

 

            
 


PASSING TIME AND CHANGING WEATHER
 

Monet's famous Rouen Cathedral series is the most famous example in Impressionism of the study of passing time and the effects on colour of changing weather. The artist painted 30 canvases in total, working at first from a shop directly opposite the cathedral, then later from an apartment nearby. In these pictures, the role of the physical subject as the focus of the work is redundant. Instead, the building serves as the agent through which the artist depicts the infinite changes in the atmosphere. The cathedral becomes literally "swallowed up" (to use Debussy's words) by the colours of the day. The blues, greys, and nuances of brown are carefully arranged according to a harmony (the term explicitly used by Monet) created from the matching of colours and brushstrokes, sometimes thick, sometimes ragged. The very term literally "swallowed up" (to use Debussy's words) by the colours of the day. The blues, greys, and nuances of brown are carefully arranged according to a harmony (the term explicitly used by Monet) created from the matching of colours and brushstrokes, sometimes thick, sometimes ragged. The very term "harmony" points to the lack of realism in the artist's intentions: these are Monet's reproductions of sensory and psychological impressions, which portray the subject in perpetual metamorphosis. In 1895, 20 of the canvases were exhibited by Durand-Ruel, selling for an astonishing 15,000 francs each.

 

Rouen Cathedral
1892

Rouen Cathedral
1893




 

 

Rouen Cathedral at the End of Day Sunlight Effect
1892

Rouen Cathedral Sunlight Effect
1893




 

 

Rouen Cathedral Symphony in Grey and Rose
1892

Rouen Cathedral and the Tour dAlbane Full Sunlight
1893




 

 

Rouen Cathedral the Portal  Morning
1893

Rouen Cathedral the Portal Grey Weather
1892




 

 

Rouen Cathedral the Portal Morning
1893

Rouen Cethedral in the Fog
1893




 

 

Rouen Cethedral the Portal in the Sun
1894

Rouen Cethedral the Portal Morning Fog
1893


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Claude Monet

 

 

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