Claude Monet 1840-1926
Monet was the founder of the 19th century art movement Impressionism. He concerned himself with with trying to capture the atmosphere in landscape painting. By this I mean he wanted to show the temperature, air quality and pressure, weather conditions and visibility he encountered whilst depiction his subject. How light conditions change the appearance and colour of objects and there cast shadows was of up most importance to him. His legacy of paintings show how he returned to the same view points over and over again to record how the different time of year and day effected the scene. He proved nothing ever looks the same twice. Things are always changing with time if we only take the time to observe hem properly we can see. Monet really looked at his subject. For this he was reward by truly seeing the colours shapes and atmosphere surrounding them.
Saint-Lazare Station 1977
Monet’s first true series of is a collection of 10 oil paintings made from observations in and around Saint-Lazare station in the year 1977. He returned 10 years later in 1987 to produce one more painting of the scene. Although painted so much later it sits comfortably with the rest as the style and brush marks seem familiar to each other.
He was keen to make paintings in the city so as to be regarded with Manet, Degas and Caillebotte artist that recorded the modern world around them and the people and costumes of the their time.
Monet sought permission to sit and paint in the station. The position was ideal for him to explore the effects of changing light through the glass and the steam from the engines as well as incorporating a record of social achievement in the impressive streamers and engineered steel making the building itself.
Collectively the paintings show Monet’s fascination wit light filtered through the atmosphere effecting colour. The steam has been recreated with swirling circular brush strokes in white tints. Some of the paintings are verge towards an abstracted view making them more impressionistic whilst others seem more soiled in there elements.
The colours used are mostly cool blues balanced with cool yellow to reds. One stands out for me which is brilliant and bright seemingly bathed in light. Ultramarine is mixed it Wight for the main plum of smoke. The painting looks to be dived in thirds horizontally by the grid of the roof in the top third. The ground and tracks in the bottom. The virtually central steam train punctuates into the middle third which is occupied with the horizon line. Mist covered buildings are barley visible through this. The tracks and roof grid give Monet some nice devices to show perspective and therefore depth in the painting.
Monet painted around 25 paintings of haystacks. He began this series at the end of summer 1889. He returned to paint the stacks in the changing weather conditions and at different times of the day so the light and colours are never the same. By spring of 1891 he had finished with his chronology of the changing stacks.
In this series he focusses on one or two stacks. They seem to take on a personality of their own. With the colours used not only suggesting light and temperature but giving a mood to the stacks. The stakes and shadows are never the exact same hue twice.
Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge 1897-1926
By changing his position in relation to the stacks and the direction he faced he changed the arrangement of items in the paintings. We know he moved around the stacks to position himself in different places to paint as the back ground trees always look different. It shows how getting up early to paint, or going out at the end of the day can provide the artist with exceptional light conditions. Enhancing the spectrum into vivd hues.
The Water lilies series is particularly interesting because it remained a subject he returned to for most of his life. Along with the Japanese bridge which is incorporated in some of the water lily scenes. The pond was in his garden so was easily assessable. Especially as he reached old age.
There are approximately 250 water Lillie paintings that are known of. Some of them are on a grand scale. Such as ‘Reflection of clouds on the water Lilly pond’ which hangs in the MOMA. I was lucky enough to have seen this in the flesh when I was much younger. It consists of three horizontal canvases. It’s combined dimensions are 1276 x 200 cm.
hard to generalise with these as there are so many. But I think they have a strong sense of light and dark at there core. Something I must be aware of when tackling landscapes of my own. Note to self – Look for darkest are then lightest area and try to get differences in the mid values.
Camille Pissarro 1830-1903 Danish-French, Impressionist, Postimpressionist
Camille Pissarro Produced many realistic landscapes. As his career progressed he started experimenting with a more impressionistic style and pointillism. Pissarro’s work was considered ground braking for the time as he sort to depict everyday people in there every day setting in natural posses often at work.
He was hugely admired by his piers such as Cezanne, Gauguin and Renoir. Not just for his forward thinking artistic approaches but also as a wise and compassionate human being. He is often said to be the Father of Impressionism and Post- impressionism and was instrumental in connecting the members of each of these movements.