Claude Monet – Woman with a Parasol -1875

By: Ranjith Daluwatta

Aug 22 2010

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La Promenade, la femme à l’ombrelle”

The painting Woman With a Parasol-Madame Monet and Her Son belongs to a series of paintings which Monet produced during the summers of 1875 and 1876. The landscape background in the series of paintings depicts the garden surrounding Monet’s second home in Argenteuil, the suburbs of Paris, and along with the poppy-covered fields in Colombes and Gennevilliers. Monet’s wife Camille served as his model for Woman with a Parasol along with his son, Jean, who was eight years old at the time of the painting.

Monet’s beautiful landscape scene depicts Camille, dressed in a voluminous, white dress, with a veiled hat, carrying a parasol. She is standing on a hill of green, silhouetted against a dazzling blue, swirling sky. Monet’s son is standing off in the background in the field, as a moment is captured in a painting. The moment depicted seems to be Camille catching a glimpse of someone looking at her.

Monet’s masterful depiction of light shows in this painting. There is also a very convincing depiction of movement in the air. Monet captures the fleeting effects of the sunlight, using shades of dark and light colors to indicate shadows, and sunlit areas, which is characteristic of his style. The grass is created with abbreviated, comma-like strokes, and quick, strong, wispy strokes of varying size and direction create the boundless sky, in an informal but masterful way.

Camille is made to look majestic or statuesque due to perspective, yet the true subjects of Monet’s paintings are color and movement. The way in which he mixes colors, creating shadows, and the brushstroke creating fluidity, make the scene realistic, with the viewer almost feeling the openness of the outdoors. Although Monet created this painting as an experiment, and for his own practice, it is one of his most famous paintings. It is currently in the National Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C.

“I’m working like never and at new attempts, figures in the open air as I understand them, made like landscapes. It is an old ream that still worries me and that I want to fulfill once and for all; but it is hard !”
Claude Monet

The importance of Monet in the history of art is sometimes “forgotten” by the fact that Art lovers tend to see only the overwhelming beauty that emanates from the canvas, ignoring the complex technique and composition of the work ( a “defect” somehow caused by Monet himself, when he declared “I do not understand why people want to understand my paintings, when it is enough to enjoy them). However, Monet’s experiments, including studies on the changes caused by the daylight on an object at different hours of the day, and the almost abstract quality of their “water lilies” are clearly a prologue to the art of the twentieth century.

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