Art can be described as that aspect of anything that serves to convey various forms of emotion through its depiction. This means that an art involves the application of learned or acquired human skills in imagination to produce expressions normally depicted through visual constructions, such as sculptures or paintings. Artists usually depict various scenarios in their works of art for the primary purpose of appreciation by viewers owing to the emotional power, impression, or beauty the objects portray or convey. La Grenouillere is a painting of a riverside boating and bathing resort, which had a restaurant floating on water, and was popular with weekend revelers of the working class between 1852 and 1870. Impressionist Monet Claude did this beautiful, emotional, and nostalgic work of art in 1869, Seine, France, during a two-month stay. Because of its famousness as a respected work of art, it is important to describe, analyze, and compare La Grenouillere with other forms of art to understand and acknowledge Monet’s intentions to convey emotions.
Impressionist Monet Claude intended to produce a quality work of art after failing severally to impress with other forms of his previous works that had been rejected at the Salon, such as Women in the Garden in 1867. Literature indicates that Monet said he had a dream of producing a tableau of La Grenouillere. Consequently, because of his hard work and passion for art, he managed to bring out his passion in La Grenouillere. This work of art entails a detail given to the floating restaurant and boats, with people appearing to enjoy their time, in a beautiful landscape filled with trees and a blue sky. The painting appears to look towards the northeast in a lovely afternoon as sunlight can be seen falling in the background. Additionally, the scene also contains trees in a beautiful background that demonstrates the sereneness of the environment surrounding the La Grenouillere.
In this painting, Monet uses full light to enhance visibility of his work. However, the picture remains visibly rough because the lighting used does not appear to give an adequate brilliance within the open scene. To cover up for this defect, Monet employs a scene of dense trees that overhang La Grenouillere encompassed with alternating shades of dark blocks containing sections that allow patches of sunlight to dazzle between the trees. Consequently, this produces an effect of light contrasts containing shade and light at different angles. Similarly, to his previous work, Garden at Sainte-Adresse, Monet appears to have concentrated on repetitive aspects, such as boats, human figures, water ripples, and vegetation, to portray emphatic brushstrokes to achieve a compelling quality in his depiction. The brushstrokes used to produce the ripple effects of the water together with shadowing create an in-depth impression of activities occurring at the scene. Additionally, the reflections used portray a scene of interaction between the revelers and their environment, making the painting to appear alive. Previously, Monet had ignored this feature in the traditional painting, thereby failing to impress at the Salon with his previous works, with judges feeling that he violated the conventional traditions of painting. Impressionists usually use several aspects of light and dark aspects (in terms of both quality and quantity), using rough emphatic brushstrokes to achieve expressive patterns to evoke emotions of real depictions. Monet also used aspects of shadowing and relative positioning of objects to achieve a descriptive detail of objects with respect to the surroundings. Sylvan indicates that relative position is where an artist uses his art to portray objects, which are higher in the painting as being far away, while those closer appear in the lower sections, to create an essence of distance. In Monet’s painting, trees farther away appear higher in the depiction while the water and nearby boats appear lower to produce an effect of relative distance.
Monet’s painting of La Grenouillere, however, appears shady and less invoking emotionally. Shades of light and dark appear to have been used grossly to try to depict the painting’s landscape as accurately as possible. The painting requires patience, a closer view, and an in-depth understanding of similar artistic work to decipher what message the artist intends to convey. From an ordinary eye, the painting is simply unappealing, uninviting, and boring to look at because it lacks a colorful appeal and attractiveness. Today’s paintings and pictures of scenarios appear vivid in terms of color and clarity, aspects viewed as imperative in creating audience appeal. However, when you step back and look at the picture with an eye for detail, it is possible to observe and tell what the impressionist intended to convey in an artistic yet well depicted painting.
Compared to works of other impressionists, such as Berthe Morisot’s painting of a young woman powdering his face, light and dark scenes, and emphatic brushstrokes are of key importance in conveying emotion and creating a bond between the viewer and the work of art. Additionally, color, used sparingly, is an important aspect of impressionists’ works for conveying emotions as well as improving visual artifacts of a work of art, especially in the 19th century. It appears impressionists strive to ensure that their landscapes produce an emotional sensation and not the other way round. Hence, they dwell on visual aspects by using aspects of rough brushstrokes combined with relative positioning as well as light and dark scenes so that their paintings arouse emotions in the viewer. Impressionism is about realistic depictions of natural events unlike other forms of painting that use mere imagination to depict a scene. In this La Grenouillere, Monet did his painting while seated outside so as to capture the real events as they occur, making impressionism a unique form of art that is full of authentic real life pictorial representations, which Isaacson refers to as the hallmark of a new style adopted in painting.
In conclusion, La Grenouillere is an authentic and befitting work of art that demonstrates a perfection at its best from an impressionist’s perspective. However, the painting, owing to its dull coloring, repetitiveness of figures and objects, as well as the poor use of light and dark scenes can be difficult for an ordinary person to appreciate.
Figure 1: La Grenouillère, 1869
Figure 2: Berthe Morisot: Young Woman Powdering Her Face
Barnet Sylvan. A short guide to writing about Art. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. n.p. http://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/2011klich902/files/2011/09/Barnet.pdf
Gombrich Ernst. H. The story of art. 16th Ed. New York, NY: Phaidon Publishers Inc, 1995.
Isaacson Joel. Monet, Claude. Last modified July 9, 2012. http://www.oxfordartonline.com.libdatabase.newpaltz.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T059077?q=La+Grenouillere&search=quick&pos=5&_start=1
Munsterberg Marjorie. Writing about art: Formal analysis. Last modified 2009 http://writingaboutart.org/pages/formalanalysis.html
Seiberling Grace. Impressionism. Last modified July 9, 2012. http://www.oxfordartonline.com.libdatabase.newpaltz.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T040015?q=impressionism&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Claude Monet: La Grenouillère" (29.100.112) In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York, NY, 2000. Last modified December 2008 http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/29.100.112.