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Featured Masterpiece  

This month's featured oil painting Claude Monet's 'On the Terrace'.

Claude Monet was a founder and central figure of the 19th century art movement known as Impressionism. Early in his career, Monet painted realistic landscapes, but after the 1870s he focused more on the effect of changing light on everyday objects. Often he painted multiple studies of the same subjects, from train stations and haystacks to the London skyline, the Rouen Cathedral and, most famously, water lilies.

During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) Monet fled from Paris to England, where he formed friendships with Camille Pisarro, Auguste Renoir and other figures central to Impressionism. He returned to Paris at the end of the war, but ended up settling in Giverny, where he began a long series of paintings of haystacks (or grainstacks) during the 1890s. Monets Impressionistic paintings sold well and his financial success allowed him to purchase property in Giverny, where he built a large garden that became the subject of his series Water Lilies (1906-26).

Stylistically, Terrace at the Seaside lies on the borderline between a free, perceptual realism and Impressionism. Like the subjects of Bazille and Boudin, it is a middle class genre. The group is dominated by the figre of his father, one of the most solidly modeled figures of Monets career. Combined with a downward looking view and the structural emphasis provided by the flags and balustrade, the angular position of his rustic chair serves to set him apart from the others, plainly less significant figures. The greyed-blue sky is flatly painted, though the bright-green blues of the sea are laid in with freer brushstrokes. Against this background, the profiles of sailboats appear as thin silhouettes. In the flower garden, Monet prefigures Impressionist handling by separating the colour tones of blossoms, leaves and shadows, restating their appearance in patches of bright red, green, yellow and violet.


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