• Chris Hemashree

The Flowing Eminence of Monet

Impressionism is considered to be the first revolutionary art movement that echoed the abstract thought that followed years later. Considered the catalyst of Modern Art, it has played a pivotal role in art history, with its influence evident in a range of artistic practices. The movement itself was set in motion with a single work of art Sunrise by Claude Monet. Art historian Paul Tucker suggested that while Monet’s work is “a poem of light and atmosphere”, it can also be seen as “an ode to the power and beauty of a revitalised France”. Monet’s art, even though simple, consists of dramatically effective composition.

The artistic oeuvre of the Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, is also seen through his seascapes. His art is a mere fascinating virtual tour through the relationship between the Impressionist master himself and the sea. From the time he was in his twenties, throughout his long career, the painting of water was one of Monet’s great preoccupations. Furthermore, the ability to capture its changing effects was one of his great talents. More than half the paintings he sent for exhibition in the l860s showed the sea or the river, attesting not only to the popularity of such themes but also to Monet’s abiding interest in them. His passion for the sea was evident to his audience. “There is a first-rank seascape painter in him,” Émile Zola wrote in 1868. “But he interprets this genre in his own way, and I see this as further proof of his intense love for the reality of the present. He loves the water as a mistress, he knows each piece of a ship’s hull and could name any rope of the masting.”

The mutable surfaces of water posed challenges of representation that Monet was keen to meet, using a variety of techniques. He allowed paints to mix on the surface of the canvas or on his brush, which was carefully selected for just the right effect. Rarely, but brilliantly, he used a flat palette knife—one of Courbet’s favorite tools to slather paint across the picture surface. None of his methods are disguised; on the contrary, Monet insists that the viewer be able to see the traces of his hand at work, just as the sea roars its glory.

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