Arts Everyday Living: Monet, the Supreme Impressionist–Summer Sailing on the Seine River

Claude Monet, The Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Title: The Bridge at Argenteuil

Who: French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926)

It is the height of the summer. The sun shines brightly illuminating the world around us, from the vibrating reflections on the water, deep and multicolored, to the luminous blue sky full of heavenly clouds, to the velvety green foliage of the trees. Wouldn’t it be fun to go for an outing on the Seine River? We have our choice of boats—the graceful sailboat, the tiny canoe, or the black vessel floating lazily near the shore, still unoccupied. Who would like to put up its sail?

The Bridge at Argenteuil was painted the same year that Monet, along with Renoir, Degas, Sisley, and Pissarro, among others organized the first of eight exhibitions held in Paris (1874-1886) that would showcase their oirginal and still-often misunderstood style of painting. Although the group thought of themselves as Independents, they would soon become renowned as the Impressionists–a term coined by a hostile art critic after seeing Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, a work featured in the initial exhibition.

Monet would live in Argenteuil, a riverside suburb just outside of Paris, for some seven years. During this period, he produced several of his most beloved Impressionist canvases, reflecting a slower, more leisurely way of life: of strolls through poppy fields, picnics in the cool woods, and, of course, boating excursions on the Seine. It was a prosperous time as well, for despite some of the negative reactions to Monet’s works, he was beginning to sell to a growing number of buyers.







In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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