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Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926 — The Sheltered Path

Claude Monet

“I like to paint as a bird sings.”  Claude Monet (1840-1926) exclaimed of his practice. This phrase gently elaborates the suborn character of the painter along with his charismatic urge to discover Painting as interpreting and observing nature.

Oscar Claude Monet is the widely known founder and motivator of the French Impressionism, the name being aimed as a disparagement by a critic during their first Impressionist exhibition, but the team of artists employed the term for their style.  The painters studied after nature, painting en plein air expressing their impression of the atmospheric ambient of the landscape rather that its true representation.

Monet was a charismatic sketcher and pastel drawer form an early age, and his quest in painting continued for his entire life. He was conflicting with the academics view of painting and commenced his own style in painting early in his career pursuing his own vision in painting. He met in Paris with Edouard Manet, Pierre August Renoir and Alfred Sisley, and they united in creating their movement in art the so called impressionism.  They attempted their own independent show, as the lacked the sponsorship of the Salon, and the criticism was hastily adverse and hostile.  The Parisian crowd was not ready for the new modernist movement in art and the painters had to strive for most of their life to access the spirituality and understanding of their contemporaries. However, although dealing with economic difficulties most of his life, Monet managed to achieve patronage that braced his work, and by the end of his life managed to support himself, his family and his fastidious taste in gardening. He bought a house in Giverny, where he painted his wonderful water lilies that he was concerned with for the last twenty years of his life. He died at the age of eighty six a renowned artist in his life time.

Monet and the Impressionist painters’ task was to understand the effects of light on the local color of objects, and effect of the juxtaposition of colors with each other.  They reflected in terms of colors and shapes, rather than scenes and objects. They painted their landscapes repeatedly at different times of the day, and varying seasons to discover the very essence of a nature and its mysteries.

“The Sheltered Path” is the perfect example to comprehend and appreciate the maniera of ImpressionismNature is celebrated with hues of greens and purples in its grandeur of spring time at its highest performance. The impressionist worked directly on canvas, and preferred to work the entire canvas all at once.  Thy built their thematic with patchworks of broad strokes of color, jotting down the visual impression, like a quick study.  Then they would impart in more detailed description of the subject by fined intuitive brushstrokes, mainly wide at the foreground and more detailed at the background resulting in a harmonious result.

In such a case we guess the first layer of colors on the “Sheltered Path” of blues behind the row of trees as the fade in the background, and of the purples on the path and around the shrubs on the left of the painting, allowing for the first construction and allocation of shapes of the synthesis. With fierce strokes of color the subject is elaborately illustrated and jollified in a naturalesque symphony.  The vegetation is depicted in agonious and disquieting flood of colors with fierce strokes of paint one contrasted to the next, reviving the pure ambition of the Impressionist manner.   

The vivid blue placed behind the trees eradicates the genius of coloristic qualities of the painter, imposing a foggy and blurred pale melancholic atmosphere to the proposition. The composition of the painting follows a diagonal of the trees disappearing in the horizon and the carefully contrasted sidewalk of the pathway, sharing a strong synthetic component and value to the oeuvre.   The most peaceful part of the painting, the sky, the triangular piece of light on the right top of the painting is also fuzzily depicted to create a disturbed yet peaceful temper. The man in the middle of the painting shares a distant solitude yet a humanized approach to the natural landscape, placing a viewer inside the painting of the niggling temper and liberating technique of the artist.

The impressionist conquered the feel and a rather self-imposed obligation to nature and landscape, along with other themes, however nature was their favorite subject, open in its stillness to observation and appreciation.  They mastered and stubbornly followed their urge to a truth that took some decades to be acknowledged, an appreciation that is now calculated in millions of dollars.

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Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926 — The Sheltered Path


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