Coastal Landscape, 1864

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

  • Oil on Canvas, 53 x 80 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

The Seine flows into the Atlantic Ocean around 75 kilometers west of Paris. The mouth of the river forms a large bay, dotted with numerous harbor towns offering wonderful views of the river, the sea and the densely wooded coastal landscape. One of these little towns, Honfleur, was a source of inspiration for a number of artists around 1865. Among them was the young Claude Monet (1840-1926), who stayed here with his friend and colleague Jean-Frédéric Bazille. The two painters had previously worked in the forests around Barbizon, and they looked for similar landscapes along the coast. In a letter to his mother, Bazille described the first impressions of their new surroundings: ‘[…] it was not difficult to find motifs for our landscapes, for the area is a paradise. Nowhere have I seen lusher meadows with more beautiful trees. The sea, or rather the Seine at its broadest, makes a splendid backdrop for these waves of green.’

More information about "Coastal Landscape"

Early Impressionism

This early work by Monet is an experiment in loose brushwork and bright color. By choosing various shades of a single color, complemented here and there by a lighter or darker stroke, the artist has created the illusion of lush vegetation: grass, woods, bushes, plants and flowers. The painting was executed outdoors, a practice also adopted by Auguste Renoir and other artists in Monet’s circle. By studying the light, colors and tones of nature directly, they sought to capture a particular moment on canvas. These early experiments can be seen as heralds of what was later to be called Impressionism. Later, Monet was to become one of the most important exponents of the movement.

Influence on Van Gogh

Van Gogh became acquainted with Monet’s work through his brother Theo, who was an art dealer in Paris. Already in 1885, while Vincent was still in the Netherlands, Theo had told him about the art of this ‘landscape painter, a colorist.’ When, a year later, Vincent came to live with Theo in Paris, he must have seen Monet’s work and been inspired by it. He introduced the Impressionists’ brighter color into his own canvases and began to experiment with small touches of contrasting color.

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