Musée d'Orsay: Claude Monet Le bassin d'Argenteuil

Claude Monet
Le bassin d'Argenteuil

Le bassin d'Argenteuil
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Le bassin d'Argenteuil
Circa 1872
Oil on canvas
H. 60; W. 80.5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Le bassin d'Argenteuil

From December 1871 until 1878, Monet lived in Argenteuil. He would set up his easel out in the countryside or in his garden. But above all it was the Seine and the movement of the small boats which attracted the painter's attention. In his paintings, with their light and vivid colours, Monet shows his perfect mastery of the technique of fragmenting brush strokes, producing an interplay of luminous vibration.
The left of the painting is taken up by the Argenteuil promenade, punctuated by the shadows of the trees planted along it. In the background there is a road bridge with a tollbooth at each end. On the right, in the foreground, there is the jetty of a bathing pool, then a washhouse. A major part of the painting is given over to clouds moving across the blue sky. As Daniel Wildenstein pointed out, Monet took several liberties with the motif. He only painted five arches on the bridge, which in reality had seven, and he raised the height of the tollbooths.
The activity in Bassin d'Argenteuil recalls the beach scenes of Saint Adresse or those of the Grenouillère baths at Bougival before 1870. But here we have a particularly accomplished work, a brilliant starting point for a fruitful series, as Impressionism reached its peak during the Argenteuil period.

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