MonetHandoutS12 - arthumanities

Art Humanities: Masterpieces of Western Art
Spring 2012 W1121
Instructor: Ellen Hoobler
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
The term Impressionist was first used as a derogatory label for the group of painters that showed
their work in an independent (i.e., not part of the official Salon – see below) exhibition in 1874.
Critics used the term, which was part of a title of a work by Monet (Impression, Sunrise, 1872), to
deride what they saw as the unfinished quality of the paintings. Impressionist painters were known
for painting en plein-air (out-of-doors), their painterly technique, and their focus on subjects drawn
from nature or modern bourgeois life.
Monet’s circle of friends included painters, such as Frédéric Bazille, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and
Alfred Sisley, as well as writers and intellectuals, such as Emile Zola.
Unlike some of the earlier painters we’ve studied, whose works were directly commissioned by
patrons, Monet and the other Impressionists sold through art dealers. (Monet also sold paintings
directly to his customers.) Monet also continued to exhibit works at the Salon, the state-sponsored
art exhibition in Paris held to exhibit works by members of the Academy (for which he was
criticized by some of the other Impressionists).
Plein-air painting
Quotes from Monet (all taken from John House’s Monet, Nature Into Art)
“…I well realize that, in order to paint the sea, one has to see it every day, at every time of day at
the same place in order to get to know its life at that place.” (17 October 1886 letter to dealer Paul
“When you go out and paint, try to forget what object you have before you, a tree, a house, a field
or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of
yellow, and paint it as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naïve
impression of the scene before you.” (1890 advice to another painter)
“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment;
but its surroundings bring it to life – the air and the light, which vary continually…For me, it is
only the surrounding atmosphere which gives objects their real value.” (1891 comment to a visitor
to the exhibition of Hay Stacks paintings)
“To me the motif itself is an insignificant factor; what I want to reproduce is what lies between the
motif and me.” (1895, to Norwegian interviewers)
Descriptions of Monet’s technique by others
“He comes and goes…quickens or slows down his pace without apparent reason…Next he
contemplates the panorama stretching before his eyes, by framing off with his hands the space he
intends to reproduce, so as to judge it better by isolating it.” (1866 description by M. Henriet)
On the Rouen Cathedral series: “(Monet) told Theodore Robinson that in them he wanted ‘to do
architecture without using lines or contours; when Whistler criticized him for ‘never delimiting his
forms, whereas nature often delimits,’ Monet replied: ‘Yes, doubtless nature does, but light never
does.’” (House 100)
Women in a Garden, 1867 (oil on canvas, 2.55 x 2.05 m.), Musée d' Orsay, Paris
Terrace at Sainte-Adresse, 1867 (oil on canvas, 98.1 x 129.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art
La Grenouillère, 1869 (oil on canvas, 74.6 x 99.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art
Impression, Sunrise, 1872 (oil on canvas, 48 x 63 cm), Musée Marmottan, Paris
Boulevard des Capucines, 1873 (oil on canvas, 31.25 x 23.25 cm), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,
Kansas City
Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874, (oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm), Musée d' Orsay, Paris
Cliffs at Etretat, 1885 (oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm), Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute,
The Manneporte near Etretat, 1886 (oil on canvas, 81.3 x 65.4 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art
Rouen Cathedral Series
The Portal (Grey Weather), 1892 (oil on canvas, 100 x 65 cm) Musée d' Orsay, Paris
Rouen Cathedral at Dawn (The Portal and the Tour d'Albane at Dawn), 1893 (oil on canvas, [106 x
74 cm), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Portal, Rouen Cathedral, West Façade Sunlight, 1893 (oil on canvas, 100.2 x 66 cm), National
Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Rouen Cathedral, The Façade in Sunlight (The Portal of Rouen Cathedral at Midday), 1893 (oil on
canvas, 106.3 x 73.7 cm), Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
Rouen Cathedral: The Portal in Sun, 1892, signed and dated 1894 (oil on canvas, 99.7. x 65.7 cm),
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Waterlilies I, 1905 (oil on canvas, [35 1/4x39 1/2 in.]), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Waterlilies (Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond), Left Panel, 1920 (oil on canvas,
triptych, each part 2 x 4.25 m), Museum of Modern Art, New York
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil, 1873 (oil on canvas),
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford
-------------, La Grenouillère, 1869 (oil on canvas)
Ando Hiroshige, Seashore at Izu, from 36 Views of Mt. Fuji (woodblock print, 1852)
Resources (on Butler Reserves)
House, John. Monet, Nature Into Art (New Haven: Yale UP, 1986)
Seitz, William C. Claude Monet: Seasons and Moments (New York: MoMA, 1960)