Arts Everyday Living: Inside the World of Monet—For the Love of Camille

Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol–Madame Monet and Her Son, 1875, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: Woman with a Parasol–Madame Monet and Her Son, 1875

Who: French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926)

When: Summer, 1875, when Monet and his fellow Impressionists, including Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, and Sisley were establishing themselves as the leaders of avant-garde art in Paris.

Where: Argenteuil, a growing suburb of Paris, about 15 minutes by train from the city, and the home of Monet and his young family from late 1871 to 1878.

What: Camille Doncieux (1847-1879), his wife, model, and inspiration, subject of some 35 works of art. She is standing, along with their 8 year old son Jean, atop a hill on a breezy day in the countryside outside Argenteuil.

How: Impressionist style, full of  luminous light and rich colors, including variations of  blues and greens. The painting likely done on the spot, Monet strategically placing his easel and canvas, below Camille and Jean. Rapidly capturing the vision before him: from the spontaneous display of clouds moving freely across the sky, to the sweeping brushstrokes of Camille’s skirt blown by the wind, to the multi-colored pattern of the flowers and grass.  

Why: Monet’s homage to Camille, demonstrating his love for her using the artistry of his genius. Yet, he has not entirely revealed her face to us, obscuring it with a veil defined by energetic touches of pigment. 

Next: Monet and the Cathedral






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