Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mist on Monet in the Morning

I am inspired again by looking at a beautiful painting at the educational site at Art NC which had an article on one of Monet's plein air paintings. At the end of the post you can find the link to the article.

I put a bit of the article in here. What amazed me was how large the canvas was and the time and location Monet painted. I have inserted a few comments in blue
Enjoy!Claude Monet (French, 1840 - 1926)
The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists, 1897
Oil on canvas
2ft 11in x 3ft 0in (88.9cm x 91.4cm) Pretty big for what we typically expect from Plein Air work.
Purchased with funds from the North Carolina Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest) and the Sarah Graham Kenan Foundation, 1975 (75.24.1)

In 1896 and 1897, Monet rose at 3:30 in the morning Certain types of light and atmosphere can only be found during certain times of day. He was commited to the study of light as indicated by his commitment to rising at 3:30 in the morning! in his village of Giverny to work on a project of capturing early morning light as it appeared through the fog. By dawn, he was in the small boat he kept on a branch of the Seine for use as a floating studio.Well here we see that Monet was not exactly in the open air but in a floating studio that had was inclosed and windowed from the elements. An observer recorded that the painter worked simultaneously on fourteen canvases, all depicting this exact spot, shifting from one to another as the strengthening sun burned through the mist. He had 14 canvas with him! Ah he must have stored them in the boat so he could keep working, catching that light. Monet spent the decade of the 1890s pursuing his innovative concept of series paintings, showing the same motif in varying conditions of light, time, and atmosphere. Of the twenty known versions of this subject, this one is among the most delicate, the features of the distant landscape obscured by the diffused light through the mist. Twenty versions of the same scene. What an education in observing the light. It would be interesting to see a plein air competion with entries of the same scene in different light and atmosphere.

The Mornings on the Seine series is different from the exuberant impressionism of Monet's earlier sunset from Etretat (also in the Museum's collection). Both are scenes of his home province of Normandy, but the color range in the later paintings is more limited, and the brushwork is thinner and softer, creating a more subtle texture. Ah! Brush work that creates a soft airy light.The format of the river views is almost square, giving them an abstract quality. It was at about the same time that Monet began to create the famous paintings of the Japanese bridge over his water-lily pond, which share the format and mood of the Mornings on the Seine. While some of the artist's later works are increasingly bold, this painting exemplifies Monet at his most poetic and introspective.

This is a two part article with and introduction at

followed by a more detailed and practical explaination of how the painting was made at