Artist Research: Oscar Claude Monet and Impression Sunrise

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Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated predominantly for their beauty or emotional power. I am going to be discussing about three of my favorite artists during the modern period. The work by these artists are very diverse and appreciated differently. Art has a variety of styles and behind each artwork that an artist produces, there is a distinctive meaning to it.

Oscar Claude Monet

Oscar Claude Monet was born in Rue Laffitte, Paris, France on 14th November 1840 and passed away on 5th December 1926. Monet was a French painter who is considered the founder of impressionism painting during the modern period. Impressionism painting is made up of relatively small, thin, rapid brush strokes and emphasizes on the portrayal of light. Monet lived in Paris from 1840-1883, when he moved to Giverny, France, and purchased a house and a property to begin landscaping, which included ponds that became the subject of one of his best-known artworks. Claude Monet went to school in 1851, where he entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts. In 1856, he met an artist called Eugène Boudin, who became his mentor and taught him how to use oil based paints. Boudin also taught Monet “en plein air” (outdoor) techniques of painting. Claude Monet was influenced by Eugène Boudin and his ingenious ways of depicting “en plein air”.

The key to the impressionist movement of Claude Monet's style is his use of oil painting on canvas, as he portrays light in various perspectives and color in a very clever way. In order to represent this kind of element into his art, he went as far as the Mediterranean and other locations in Central Europe to capture the accurate way of embodying impressionism.

One of his famous work, “Impression levant” (Impression sunrise) became the source of the movement, Impressionism.

Important Art Work by Oscar Claude Monet

The below artworks are the most important by Claud Monet – that highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Impression Sunrise (1872-1872)

The first photo I will be analysing by Claude Monet is Impression, Sunrise which depicts the port of Le Havre, Monet's hometown. He proceeded to create a series of works depicting the port of Le Havre. The shadows of the boats and figures and the reflection of the sun’s rays can be seen on the water’s surface. The imagery of this work of art presents a focus on the calm feeling of a misty oceanic scene. Slightly below the center of the painting, a small rowboat with two indistinct figures floats in the bay. The early morning sun is portrayed rising over the foggy harbour with ships and other various boats at port. “If you make a black and white copy of Impression, Sunrise, the Sun disappears [almost] entirely.” Numerous vertical elements can be found throughout this hazy landscape. This painting has shown many straight, vertical and horizontal lines. Off in the distance, more vertical forms break the horizon—chimneys of various factories and poles of other ships may be observed. The six painted canvases depict the port 'during dawn, day, dusk, and dark and from varying viewpoints”, some from the water itself and others from a hotel room looking down over the port. This painting is meant to represent the Port of Le Havre and how the light is portrayed and conveyed through different angles. Cranes and heavy machinery can be detected to the right side of the painting. The emissions of the factories, ships, and machinery mix with the warm, early rays of the sun to generate a sense of beauty.

Through examining most of Monet’s paintings, I have distinguished a style and theme to all paintings. Claude Monet was acknowledged for his awareness of color harmony and harmony of living with nature. He was widely known for capturing rich atmospheric effects in a particular moment in time of his works of art. To accomplish these achievements, Monet employed broken brushwork and heightened color. He was also very sensitive to the moods created by a landscape; in his own words he explained his method of “depicting the feeling of a scene.” In most of his work, he emphasized the true nature of a place.

Monet incorporates a palette of mostly cool, dull colors into the painting with blues and grays, but also includes splashes of warm colors noticed in the sky and the red-orange sun. This usage of a noticeably bright color draws attention to the main focus of the painting, the sun. Monet uses short, thick strokes of paint that are applied to the canvas to quickly capture the essence of the subject. The brushstrokes visible in the water in Impression, Sunrise create a sense of rhythm and pattern which reflects the feeling produced by the motion of the sea. Impressionist painters delivered heavy emphasis on natural light, a practice that can be discovered throughout Monet’s work including the sunlight reflection in this particular artwork. To achieve this natural ambience of light, he often mixed his pigments with large amounts of white to tint them. During his career, Monet’s natural skill to capture this effect was recognized through his reputation as the “incomparable painter of [. . .] light.”

This painting took a year to create (1872-1872). Monet took his time and effort into creating this for a year and took several approaches of portraying the port. The series has six paintings of the port in different perspectives.

Unlike other artworks of the time, the subject matter and specific painting techniques evident in Impression, Sunrise seek to transcribe the feelings introduced by a scene rather than simply interpreting the details of a particular landscape. Many scenes were captured and as a result, there was a series of paintings illustrating Le Havre port. This act of expressing an individual’s opinion of nature was a key feature of Impressionist art, and is a common subject matter found in most of Monet’s paintings.

While Impression, Sunrise and Monet’s artistic technique was critiqued, Monet’s masterpiece gave birth to a new movement and created a revolution in the world of art called Impressionism.

In 1985 the painting was stolen from the Musée Marmottan Monet by Philippe Jamin and Youssef Khimoun. In total, the group of gun-wielding men stole nine paintings, including Renoir's Bathers and Monet's Impression, Sunrise, where Impressionism gets its name, that all together were estimated about $12.5 million, if you can put a price to Monet's groundbreaking work.

This painting has got me thinking of the techniques used as I saw lots of strong, thick brushstrokes. I am used to seeing paintings blended together to create a harmony, however, this has done the same thing just with a different technique. It captures the true nature and the natural portrayal of light.

If I were to imagine Monet’s mood while creating this painting, I would think that he would be focused and also if he made a mistake, he would be fine with it, as he could cover it up with layers upon layers of paint. Monet was an incredibly passionate painter. His work is pleasing and soothing to the eye and is very calm, as it doesn’t have the bright colors of a palette, which would take away from the main subject of the painting, the sun. The sun’s colors is a shade of red, where a little bit of black is added to the pure color.

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Over time, Monet’s painting techniques evolved and matured from the type he implemented in Impression, Sunrise to that seen in his later, larger paintings such as his water lilies. He developed his technique of mixing pigment. While Impression, Sunrise displays several different tones of color, Monet’s later works exhibit a wider variety of color contrasting against one another. Monet would come to use layer upon layer of paint in his later paintings. He applied many layers to succeed in creating the perfect combination of pigment, but also to cover portions when he changed his mind in the process of completing a painting, which happened often. Up to fifteen layers of paint have been counted in one area. Another technique not seen in Impression, Sunrise that Monet used was corrugation. This technique was noticed in his water lily painting series, which I will now further analyse.

Water lily paintings, Nymphéas – first painting in the series

The second photo I will be analysing is the Water Lily’s (Nymphéas). This series of approximately 250 oil paintings of different sizes, of Water Lily’s (Nymphéas) that convey his flower garden at his home in Giverny and were the main focus of his artistic production during the last thirty years of his life, which are often considered by art critics to represent his finest work. They demonstrate his extraordinary skill at “en plein air” painting, influenced by Eugène Boudin, and his feeling for color and appreciation of light.

In 1883, Monet rented a house at Giverny, fifty miles from Paris. Seven years later he bought the house and shortly afterwards in 1893, purchased a meadow near the property which comprised a pond. He hired at least six gardeners who gradually shaped the meadow into a garden of willows, irises and water lilies specially imported from Japan. Monet painted the gardens around the house and then turned his attention to the water gardens, painting them repeatedly between 1897 and his death in 1926. His main aim was to execute the lily’s in different sunlight at different times of the day.

These late water lily pictures include Impressionism with Expressionism in almost equal measure, and a border line on abstract art, as Monet's attempt to capture the constantly changing natural light. He would have some paintings close up to the lily and some at a distance.

Monet used another technique called corrugation. This technique is observed in several of his water lily paintings. The effect of corrugation was produced by layering thick, but open brushstrokes of paint onto the canvas which then served as the textural basis for the thin strokes of color placed on top. Monet applied these thin strokes perpendicularly to the under-layer so as to lightly brush the ridges of the texture. He was very particular and careful with his hand movements and where he put the paint, as he contrasted colors against each other, and he wanted to create a harmony of colors. If Monet acquired layers of paint that were too heavy, he often used a technique called scraping down to remove the unwanted or excess paint. A final technique Monet later applied in his water lily paintings was named leaching. In this process, Monet would squeeze the paint out of the tubes onto paper notebooks to drain the oil from the paints, as the paper would soak the oil up. This technique was commonly used when he wanted a softer and more matte-like appearance.

Monet lost his right eye due to a disease and so he had to paint and see with only his left eye. Monet was very disappointed with but was a permanent flaw, but he still dealt with it, therefore creating spectacular art pieces.

This series shocked me as I would have never imagined for someone, who was in the later years of their life, to manage to paint 250 paintings varying the size of the canvas, with only one eye. To me that is what I would call, determination and perseverance. Monet creates a peaceful meditation within a flowering, watery surround.

The corrugation technique as I mentioned earlier, has conveyed the mood to be peace, harmony and synchronization.

Bain à la Grenouillère (1869–1869)

Monet wrote a letter on September 25, 1869 Frédéric Bazille, 'I do have a dream, a painting (tableau), the baths of La Grenouillère, for which I have made some bad sketches (pochades), but it is only a dream. Pierre Auguste Renoir, who has just spent two months here, also wants to do this painting.' Monet and Renoir, both desperately poor, were quite close at the time. La Grenouillère was a popular middle-class resort consisting of a spa, a boating establishment and a floating café. Monet was a desperately poor man, so him going to a middle-class resort was unlikely of him.

The broad, constructive brushstrokes here are clearly those of a sketch. For his exhibition pictures, Monet usually obtained a more delicate and carefully calibrated surface at this time. This may have been the only painting that Monet used sketches, however, he normally would go straight in with paint.

Monet concentrated on repetitive elements, the ripples on the water, the foliage, the boats, the human figures – to weave a fabric of brushstrokes which, although forcefully brushstrokes, retain a strong descriptive quality. The ripples of the water and the shadows of the boat give a 3-dimensional view. There is a reflection of almost every object which gives this painting depth.

This painting is impressive because it captures the reflection of the objects well and Monet also painted the ripples of the water which bring more life into the whole painting. There are two paintings of the same scene, made one painted by Pierre Auguste Renoir, and the other by Claude Monet. Comparing the two of the paintings, I think that Monet’s painting is a lot more expressive by the textures and the way Monet has spaced out the whole painting. In Renoir’s painting, everything is too close together, whereas, in Monet’s, there is a lot more room and a lot more shadows of reflection. Monet uses techniques that Renoir may not have even known of.

Monet wanted to paint this, and he always has his mind set to something, so painting in such an environment where there are middle-class people around may have made nervous, but maybe when he paints that stress would have gone and he would concentrate on the main idea.

In all Monet’s paintings, there is a lot of nature involved and the colors in this painting blend together and create a perfect harmony.

I think that Monet would be thinking that his close friend is painting the exact same scene and so he needs to use quite a variety of techniques to put his painting over the top and make his better that Renoir’s. Monet tried incorporating all the techniques he leant from his mentors, to create an intense and in depth painting.

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