Claude Monet (1840-1926) Part III

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.

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 paintings of 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 of the 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.

To be continued in part IV

See the beginning of this article in part I; part II



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