National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Seine at Giverny Claude Monet (artist)
French, 1840 - 1926
The Seine at Giverny, 1897
oil on canvas
overall: 81.5 x 100.5 cm (32 1/16 x 39 9/16 in.) framed: 102.6 x 121.6 x 9.5 cm (40 3/8 x 47 7/8 x 3 3/4 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
On View
From the Tour: Claude Monet: The Series Paintings
Object 4 of 7

From the early 1860s until 1889, not a single year passed that Monet did not paint the Seine. Its flower-strewn banks and watery reflections appear in six of his paintings in the National Gallery of Art. In 1896, though, he began a more systematic study of the river near his home at Giverny, where he moved in 1883. Lured by the lifting haze and quickly changing light of early morning, he often rose before sunrise—at 3:30 a.m.—to be at his easel by dawn. He worked from a flat-bottomed boat tied up near the bank. But, as with his other series paintings, Monet only began the pictures outdoors, elaborating them over a period of months in his studio, taking special pains to adjust their light. These paintings, more precisely than his other series pictures, show the progression of time and the subtle changes in light as hours, even minutes, pass.

This painting is related to the early morning series, but is even less defined. The paint here, although it is often thickly applied on the canvas, gives the impression of transparency, like thin veils of mist. This enveloppe of atmosphere unifies the picture with a vaporous luminosity. Rather than focus on the trees, the line of the water, or sky, Monet subsumes these individual shapes to a soft light that is the painting's true subject. The surface of the canvas becomes a decorative pattern of curving arabesques.

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