Arts Everyday Living: What Do You Know About Monet?, Part 5–Becoming an Impressionist

Claude Monet, On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt, 1868, oil on canvas, Potter Palmer Collection, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

Title: On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt

Artist: Claude Monet (1840-1926)




Did you know that Claude Monet began his career as a teenager and continued to create until his death at 86 in 1926? Most of us are familiar with Monet’s iconic Impressionist works. However Monet, like any great artist, expressed himself in multiple styles. So for the next month, experience the artistic world of the French master, from the young, aspiring painter to one of the most famous figures of his day.

Here is the fifth entry of our series:

#5–How would you like to spend a day along the Seine River? Like Camille, the artist’s future wife, meditating upon its reflections—broad, planes of paint, ranging from shades of blue to a mixture of  earthy brown and  green. Interrupted by an upside down image of a house, representing the mirror world of water, along with boats and figures in the distance, close to the shoreline. While the stone facades of the village buildings are firmly anchored to the ground, a wall of hills rising above them.

Next to Camille, two solid trees tower above, their leaves spreading outward, dense with the pattern of growth–welcome protection from the summer sun. Yet, doesn’t Camille actually reinforce their vertical thrust, sitting upright like a statue composed of thick brushstrokes rather than flesh and blood?  As if Monet were reconstructing the world of nature and humanity, like pieces in a puzzle, unified by the texture of pigment and rich color.

On the Banks of the Seine, Bennecourt was created in 1868 when the couple with their son Jean had left Paris and were living in the suburbs near the city. It is a unique work of art in Monet’s career, as if the 38 year old artist was experimenting visually, attempting to develop a new way of seeing that would culminate in the style now known as Impressionism.





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