This month's featured oil painting is 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 figure 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.