Claude Monet is credited as being the, “initiator, leader and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style” (Nicholas Pioch, Webmuseum). Monet’s advocacy for the Impressionist style grew out of the inspiration to paint outdoors that he gained from his mentor, Boudin. Monet’s paintings, most of which were painted outside even if it meant installing huge canvases or pulley systems to achieve the effect he wanted, feature nature scenes interspersed with some element of mankind’s effect or industrialization and modernization’s presence in nature.
Monet is well known for introducing the brushstroke style that has become characteristic of Impressionist painting. His wispy, swirled brushstrokes gave all of his paintings a soft, natural, interpretive effect to the viewer. Monet’s painting, The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean (Woman With Parasol) is illustrative of the Impressionist style. Monet has painted his own wife and son taking a walk in the sunshine. The wife and son represent a human element amongst a large setting of sky, clouds and grass.
The exact setting can’t be identified, but the grass and sky seem very large and the two human figures seem smaller and more vulnerable in comparison. This is a good example of the value of human vulnerability that was often present in Impressionist works. Impressionist art often featured human figures or elements, but they were often presented as much smaller as the natural elements that served as a backdrop. The first thing that catches my eye when I look at Monet’s painting is his wife.
She seems very tall and alone against the skyline, and my eye is drawn secondarily to the son, who seems in comparison to be small and young. Her parasol stands out very strong and dark against the bright clouds and vivid blue sky. While she seems very tall because of the angle from which she is depicted and the contrast between her and her son, Monet’s brushstrokes still give her a soft femininity that make her seem maternal. Her skirt seems to swirl around her with the grass, and Monet’s swirling brushstrokes give a very realistic effect that she is bracing herself against a strong breeze.
The grass seems to have a sense of movement all its own. In a later painting entitled Woman With Parasol in which the figure is standing alone, the grass is still and brown, completely changing the tone of the painting. There is the effect of shadow and light in the grass around her skirt and lower half, which I felt gave the painting a sense of depth while also helping to give it movement. I thought that this effect was very interesting when compared to the clouds above her head, which also seem to swirling and moving fast.
She seems to be holding the parasol not only to shield herself from the sun, which is not in the painting so it’s probably directly overhead, but also against the wind blowing against her back. This painting reminds me of a place that I used to visit when I was young with my own mother. There was a local park where we used to go walking and hiking. Most of it was woods with trails, but there was area that I loved to go to because it was just this big clearing with a huge hill in the middle.
There were flowers at the base of the hill and at the top, and I used to love to climb all the way to the top because it made me feel like I was on top of the world. I felt like I could see the whole sky and that I was closer to the sky than I had ever been. Of course, this was probably just because I was so little and that hill seemed so big at the time. The setting of this painting reminded me of that experience because it looks like they’re at the top of the hill, and Monet’s son and wife strolling on top of a hill against the sun and clouds reminded me of the walks I used to take with my own mother.
Works Cited Howe, J. “Early and High Impressionism”. 19th Century Art: Claude Monet. Boston College. Viewed. 29 May, 2010. http://www. bc. edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/art/monet1. html Pioch, Nicholas. (2002). Monet, Woman With Parasol. Paris: WebMuseum. Retrieved on 2/20/10. Viewed 29 May, 2010. http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/monet/later/parasol Whitcombe, C. Art History: Resources on the Web (2009). Retrieved on 2/20/10. Viewed 29 May 2010. http://witcombe. sbc. edu/ARTHLinks. html
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