Claude Monet was a master Impressionist artist, whose works inspired a new art movement. His radical style often depicted un-idealized landscapes, whose colors where unrealistic, moving away from the traditional earth tones. The main relationship between him and his art focused on the sensation of viewing nature. Monet often used the fall of light in a way in which it would in nature, not just spotlighting key elements as was the previous style. Monet painted in bold, separate strokes or vivid color.
Monet often suffered from criticism from his peers in the art world. Many called him a failure because of his devotion to exaggerated color. His painting “The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean” his use of color is no different. The figure of the woman dominates the foreground and is more defined than the figure behind her or anything around her (“the stroll”). Each brush stroke is very visible and the colors are vibrant. Emphasis is placed on the women by making her colors actually lighter than those others around her. Her tone is more washed out than the sky and grass, but she is in sharper focus. All the colors in the painting are cool colors, mostly greens and blues. The painting in true Monet style is evenly lighted and naturalistic. The perspective is from the ground, as if the viewer is looking up at the woman.
Before reading about this painting, I did have some knowledge about the Impressionist period. I had always liked the loose, brush strokes, and how the subjects are typically rendered in a soft fashion to give a mere “impression.” (“the stroll”). This painting is interesting because it appears different depending on what angle and distance you are viewing it from. Impressionist style is supposed to be recognizable from a glance. At the colors and more defined figure of the woman stand out at first glance, but as you continue to look at is often the painting appears more as patches of color than as a figure.
The painting personifies the Impressionistic concept because the subject matter is very natural. The woman is walking along on a sunny day and feels spontaneous is nature. She is not stiffly posed or artificial in any way. One can see that the wind is blowing and it adds movement to the painting. Depth is achieved in the painting, because the second figure is smaller, more blurry, and shown from the waist up indicating that he is farther away and slightly under a hill. This helps distinguish both the perspective and depth from the busy patches of color. The shadows cast by the figure are prominent. They indicate that the day is sunny and lead the eye upward to the figures. This use of live to emphasis the focal point is a classic artistic technique. Not much mixing or blending of colors is used. Monet is very successful in rendering the “folds” within the woman’s skirt to create dimension. There is also a sense of abstract within his work; one can look deeper away from the obvious figure to find a multitude of abstract concepts. The figures are blurred that give a sense of mystery; it is up to the view to determine what the subject truly is amidst the bright colors.
The Impressionist period signified a time of artistic freedom and a move away from conventional techniques. Previous works of art was more stiffly posed with dark colors, and overly dramatic lightning. Impressionism often personifies the beauty of nature through un-natural means. The realism and romanticism period before often focused on nature as a subject matter, but in a more realistic fashion. The impressionist technique was unlike any that had been done before it. The style has strong, unblended brush strokes that would be thought a mistake in other styles. The realism period was all about detail, while the Impressionist period is about the lack for detail instead focusing on emotion and movement. The brush strokes also often help indicate movement. One can see this illustrated in this painting, as the swirling clouds with long brush strokes indicate wind and movement in the piece. The painting as a whole is a bit blurred and loosely painted, and speaks of a dream like quality. This quality adds some softness to the intensity of the colors. The colors within the painting are vivid and cool in tone suggesting serenity. Impressionism can be seen as a move away from order and balance (Gombrich, 2003). This work personifies this trait with the chaotic use of color and direction. The calmness related in the painting provokes an emotional response. The viewer can almost feel the emotional response as they view it.
After the Napoleonic period, art typically had three distinct subject matters, religion, political, or historical significance (Gombrich, 2003). Landscapes were not often valued (Gombrich, 2003). Impressionists on the contrary made art that had little significance in these areas, but stirred the emotion of the public. This was a different concept as art for enjoyment and beauty. Anyone can enjoy Impressionist art, and it takes no prior knowledge of art technique or history to understand it.
When Nathan Knobler said “the painter learns to work within the limits of his medium,” he is stating the in order for a work of art to be successful, the artist must learn to use their medium correctly in order to gain the effect desired (Gombrich, 2003). It is true that particular mediums do limit and have a great impact on the techniques used and overall result. For example a watercolor painting could not be painted using the same techniques as an oil painter would use. The components of the paint itself are different and thus for must be applied differently. The effect desired would also determine what medium the artist will use. In contrast to Knobler’s view I do not think that an artist should strictly limit themselves and conform to purely conventional painting practices. Many wonderful works of art would never have been created had not some brave artists rebelled against conventional practices and pushed to go beyond the limits of their mediums. Monet certainly breaks out of convention and uses paint in new innovative styles and methods.
In conclusion, the painting “The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean” promotes a new style of art, Impressionism. The woman is the main subject even though she is blurred. The colors are bright and cool and unnatural for the scene. The woman in un-posed and the picture appears spontaneous and carefree. The brush strokes are loose and contribute to the feeling of movement. The figure of Monet’s son contributes to the feeling of depth. The perspective is low and draws the eye to the figure of the woman.
Gombrich, E. (2003). The story of art. Phaidon. Boston.
The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean. (n.d.). Ibiblio. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/a uth/monet/later/parasol