Jakub Kindl Jersey  Darius Slayton Womens Jersey  Artwork Women in the Garden by Claude Monet | PAH

Artwork Women in the Garden by Claude Monet

Claude Monet (1840-1926) was the leader of the Impressionist group of painters, which took its name from one of his paintings (“Impression, Sunrise” painted in 1872). His “Women in the Garden” is of an earlier date, 1866-7, but it is notable for displaying Monet’s lifelong fascination with the effects of light and the way that it changes the colours of what one sees. That is the essence of Impressionism, which Monet and his fellow artists were to develop in the years ahead.

Monet spent the summer of 1866 at Ville d’Avray near Paris, renting a house with his mistress Camille Doncieux, and it was in the garden of that house that he conceived and painted most of “Women on the Garden”. All the four women in the painting are Camille, in different poses and wearing differently coloured and patterned dresses. However, the faces of the women are not well defined, as they are not intended to be portraits.

Monet preferred to paint in the open air as much as possible, which is how he was able to observe the effects of light and shade so accurately, but the painting in question was completed in his studio over the winter.

It is a huge canvas, measuring some eight and a half feet by six and a half feet, and this posed a problem for the artist when at work in the garden. He solved the difficulty of gaining access to all parts of the canvas by digging a trench in the ground, into which the canvas was lowered, and rigging it to a pulley system so that it could be raised and lowered to a convenient height as required.

The scene is a study of the effect of sunlight as it filters through the leaves of trees. The women’s dresses are light and summery, full-length and voluminous. There is therefore plenty of surface area to catch the light or be thrown into shade. There is extra detail in the roses that grow on a bush in the background or are held in bouquets by two of the women.

The woman nearest to the viewer is sat (presumably on a chair), shielding her face with a parasol. The shaded tone of her skin and the top of her dress contrasts with the bright light on the rest of her dress (except where its folds produce shadows) and the flowers she is holding and looking at.

Two women, dressed in green and brown, stand to the left. They are mostly in shade, but a few rays of sunlight have clearly penetrated the foliage of the tree that reaches up through the centre of the painting and these dapple the dresses with small patches of lighter colour. The fourth woman, slightly further back and to the right, has her back to the full sun, which shines brightly off her mostly white dress and brings out the brilliant red colour of her hair as she reaches out to the roses on the bush.

The sun also picks out some of the tree leaves in brighter green, as well as casting a shadow that falls over part of the pathway, the lower portion of the dress of the woman seated in the foreground, and the longish grass on which she is sitting.

In all these instances, Monet has captured perfectly the effects of light and shade, because he has painted precisely what he saw, no more and no less. Despite what some people might think, there is nothing slapdash or careless about Impressionism, even though it is common to place the words “vague” and “impression” side by side. The Impressionist ideal is one of precision and accuracy, as what the artist places on the canvas is exactly what he sees and not some conventional image of what people might suppose that they see.

At the time that Monet painted “Women in the Garden” he was extremely hard up, which was one reason why he could not afford to employ any models other than Camille, who came from an impoverished background herself. One reason why he finished the work indoors is that the details of the dresses were taken from magazine illustrations, because neither he nor Camille could have afforded anything as luxurious.

The painting was turned down for exhibition at the 1867 Salon partly because of the visible brushstrokes that it contains, which were considered to demonstrate its unfinished nature. One member of the jury was determined that art of this nature was to be deplored, declaring: “Too many young people think of nothing but continuing in this abominable direction. It is high time to protect them and save art!”

The painting was bought by Monet’s friend and fellow artist Frédéric Bazille, to help Monet financially. It is now in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.


Vaizey, M. 100 Famous Paintings. Artus, 1979

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