National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Banks of the Seine, Vétheuil Claude Monet (artist)
French, 1840 - 1926
Banks of the Seine, Vétheuil, 1880
oil on canvas
overall: 73.4 x 100.5 cm (28 7/8 x 39 9/16 in.) framed: 100.3 x 127.6 x 9.5 cm (39 1/2 x 50 1/4 x 3 3/4 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
1963.10.177
On View
From the Tour: Claude Monet: The Series Paintings
Object 1 of 7

During the early years of impressionism, one of Monet's primary intentions was to capture fleeting effects of light and atmosphere. Working quickly, out of doors, he sought to transcribe with directness and spontaneity his sensory experience of the landscape before him. But by about 1880, when this picture was painted, Monet was beginning to show more interest in the painted surface itself. This interest would lead him to explore the same subject repeatedly in his series paintings, seeking to unify individual canvases and harmonize each series as a whole.

Here, brushstrokes vary in response to the different textures they portray—contrast, for example, the quick horizontal skips in the river's gently rippled surface with the rounder, swirling forms of the sky. But it is the foreground, where thick grasses and flowers are painted with crowded, exuberant strokes, that draws our attention. These heavy layers of paint were probably not completed on the spot, but instead carefully reworked in the studio. The strokes assume an importance in their own right, becoming decorative as well as descriptive. Monet, however, never strays far from the natural forms that were his inspiration.

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