The Seascapes by Claude Monet

Claude Monet is regarded as the master of Impressionist painting and his seascapes are an example of his artistic oeuvre. Discover the relationship between the master impressionist and the sea in this fascinating virtual tour.

The beginnings: childhood in Le Havre

Claude Monet developed a close relationship with the sea in the mid-1850s after he and his family moved to Le Havre, France, a coastal town on the Normandy coast. The early years of Monet were not particularly auspicious for plein air painting, as he focused on drawing caricatures of his neighbors and acquaintances instead. The young talent, however, caught the attention of a young painter based in Le Havre a few years before, Eugene Boudin, still regarded as one of the greatest seascape painters of the 19th Century. The young artist was convinced by the master to join him on his outings to paint outdoors after a few months. Boudin’s tenacity, and the understanding Monet gained several years later, would not be in vain “Boudin is to blame for the fact that I am a painter.”

Creating an artist: Jongkind the master

In 1862, Claude Monet was just 22 years old when it is likely that the artist’s real career as an artist began. His illness in Algeria caused him to be sent back to Le Havre to recover after he became ill. Monet knew Johan Barthold Jongkind, the Dutch painter who would become his ‘true master’ in Normandy, while his body of work was still alive.

The young Monet was fascinated by Jongkind’s paintings of seascapes due to their effects of light and atmosphere even though the artist was impulsive and an alcoholic. A work like “Pointe de la Hève at Sainte-Adresse” (1864, Currier Museum of Art) is clearly influenced by the Dutch painter, with its carefully placed and vertically laid out depictions of the sky and 1865 was the year that this painting was accepted to the Salon. This work is highly realistic and uses an extremely definite brushstroke by Monet, which he changed later in works such as “Rough Sea at Etretat” (1868, Musée d’Orsay, Paris).

A bourgeois sea: the terrace at Sainte-Adresse

Monet painted his earliest sea paintings in Sainte-Adresse in the second half of the 1860s. His sea paintings mark a momentary change in his portrayal.

A work from this era that is most representative is “Terrace at Sainte Adresse”. It is under a strong “plein air” light that the bourgeois scene develops. By fluting two flags fluttered by the ocean breeze, you can clearly distinguish between the land, the sea, and the sky, the three major elements of the composition. Our eyes are immediately drawn to the painting and we are tempted to sit on one of the empty chairs and relax in the sunshine on work with a very different composition, though in a similar theme, appears in “Sailing at Sainte-Adresse” (1867, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Expanding horizons: the trips to England and Holland

In 1870, Durand-Ruel, an important patron of Impressionist artists, provided financial support to Monet, Pissarro, and Boudin during their visit to London, a trip that continued the following year when they stayed in Amsterdam. In fact, Monet did not really enjoy painting the English countryside at first. Most of his English paintings were depictions of the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames, a subject he would return to in subsequent visits, far more enthusiastically. Monet discovered the finest British landscape painters during his time at the National Gallery when he visited London, which was a major reason for his stay in London There are two artists worth noting here – John Constable and Joseph Mallord Willam Turner’s seascapes, with their various effects of light and atmosphere, had an influence on Monet’s work throughout the following decades. After turning forty, the French artist made yet another trip to England between 1899 and 1900. It’s not only the spectacular and famous views of the Houses of Parliament in London that will always be a part of Monet’s visit to the British Isles, but his first stay there marks a turning point in his artistic career due to the influential influence of Turner.

Can you tell me about the It was love at first sight for Monet when he saw the Netherlands. “The whole scene is even more beautiful than we expected.” (…). The landscapes on this island are sufficient for me to paint for the rest of my life”, As soon as he arrived in the Netherlands, Mont was captivated by its stunning landscape, especially the windmills and boats of Zaandam. His admiration for Jongkind may have been reignited as a result of his contemplation of the canvases by Hobbema and van Ruysdael. maybe the artist felt inspired by the pure landscapes of the old masters and searched for new challenges in their work. The truth is that Dutch influence on Monet can be seen not only in to his “Dutch” works, but also in many seascapes painted in the Normandy coast.

An iconic work: “Impression: sunrise”

Art critic Louis Leroy wrote about this canvas when it was exhibited at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1877 “Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.”. This is just an example of critics of the time reacting to this work, and on a broader scale, to the entire Impressionist movement (analogous to this painting in that it was also the movement’s namesake). No one offered the asking price of 1,000 francs for the small work, so it is not surprising they did not get any offers.

Our first point of focus in the painting is the intense fog, which envelops and blurs all shapes and colors of the canvas, so the chimneys in the background are hardly discernible. Despite being surrounded by an intense ocean of fog, both the boats at the bottom of the canvas appear to be mysteriously floating in the waves. Turner’s apparent influence can be seen in this work, both in terms of atmospheric effect and the almost contrary role of the sun, overpowering but powerless in the face of the vast haze, an effect reminiscent of his monumental painting “Hannibal crossing the Alps.”. The impressionist brushstrokes of Monet go even further, giving the canvas and in particular the lower part of it, a state of abstraction that is almost abstract.

Maturity: the cliffs of Normandy

1883, Monet visited several coastal towns in Normandy, such as Dieppe, Pourville and Trouville, where it seemed as though the coastal landscape was more interesting than the ocean itself, taking advantage of the spectacular views along the Normandy coast.

Seascapes are almost always horizontal in conception, creating a composition in which horizon, or the boundary between sea and sky, has the defining role. An important characteristic of most of Monet’s works from this period is the asymmetry of his compositions. This can be seen in the painting Cliffs near Dieppe (1882, Zurich Kunsthaus Zurich), in which the two traditional horizontal planes (sky and sea) are divided by the dramatic cliff, resulting in three vertical sections (land/cliff, sea and sky). There are other paintings notable for this effect, such as “Beach of Etretat” (1883, Musée d’Orsay) and “The Manneporte”, although now we will analyze only these paintings that exhibit the maximum intensity of the effect in its various variations.

New concepts: customs house at Varengeville

Claude Monet introduced the concept of a “series” to modern art, which is considered one of his greatest contributions In the several canvases depicting the customs house at Varengeville (1882), there is an important precedent.

This series is not as well known as the well-known series listed above, but the analyses of the “Cabine des douaniers” are One example exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art reproduces virtually the same composition as previously commented “Cliffs near Dieppe”, while in an example belonging to an American private collection, the dramatic effect is not only created by the verticality, but is also reinforced by the diagonal of the hill.

More than sea and rock: “The Manneporte”

Monet explored the idea of series yet again in one of his most original and favorite works. Located on a cliff not far from Etretat is Manneporte, a spectacular natural arch made of rock. He chose not to paint the environment in his previous paintings, focusing exclusively on the sea and the dramatic arch instead. On the left side of the table of the famous painting displayed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the meeting point between the rock and the sea is very diffuse, making it difficult to tell where one begins and another Another example from this series is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art, in which Monet left out this major meeting point, making the Manneporte appear as a colossal column of rock that juts majestically out of the Monet continued this journey into abstraction in the coming decade, and is able to see its traces in these paintings.

Wild sea, sea of light: from Britain to the Mediterranean

Monet made two trip to various coastal towns along the French coast during the second half of the 1880’s, trips that were close in time, but very distant in terms of his artistic output. 1886, Monet rented a room in a small hostel near Belle-Île, where he was immediately fascinated by the beautiful as well as “frightening” landscape of Coastal Brittany, more brutal and harsh “Storm, Coast at Belle Ille” (1886, Paris, Musée d’Orsay) represents the violent power and violence of the sea, but here the sea surface plays a greater role, and the thick and powerful brushstrokes emphasize the violent force of the A constant feature of Brittany’s paintings is this feeling of violence and its depictions of cliffs in dark tones.

Monet rented for three months a small castle in Antibes, along the French Riviera, after buying the house in 1913. As soon as the artist set eyes on the Mediterranean, he fell in love with the landscape – “so filled with light” – as well as with the turquoise and pink tones in the Our journey through Monet’s relationship with the sea comes to an end here in Antibes. He showed how the results of his experiments were evident in his seascape paintings even in works such as that.

By Peter