Claude Monet
Argenteuil

Argenteuil
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Argenteuil
1872
Oil on canvas
H. 50; W. 65 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Argenteuil


During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the Commune, Monet lived in London with his wife and son. There he visited many museums, taking a particular interest in the technique of the English painters Constable and Turner, and in the unusual way they used light to conceal contours. This influence is visible in the landscapes painted by Monet in the areas around Argenteuil, where he moved to in December 1871.

It is highly likely that Monet completed this painting on his boat, which he set up as a studio. Its viewpoint encompasses Argenteuil on the left, and the distant hills of Orgemont on the right. Avoiding vivid colours, he uses a very subtle palette to render this moment of quietness and stability. The colours of the village and the hills in the foreground seem to be diluted by a light mist, while the water takes on the variations of the colour of the sky. Only the left hand side of the painting stands out: the vegetation of the Ile Marante is projected into the space on the canvas through touches of green, ranging from light to dark.
Aware of the fleeting appearance of shadows and reflections, the artist makes these important axes in his composition. Thus, the masts of the boat on the right are extended by their own reflections in the water. These lines stretch almost the whole height of the painting, and respond to the verticals on the left bank.

Although the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel managed to find some interest for such views, there was a violent reaction when Monet put them before a wider public. Impressionism, still in its infancy in the 1870s, was still only met for the most part with incomprehension.




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