National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

The Impressionists at Argenteuil


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Introduction | Impressionism | Group Exhibitions | The Paris Suburbs | Impressions of Nature
Impressionist Techniques | Landscapes of Modernity | Leisure | Group Dynamics

Leisure
 The impressionists' interest in scenes of modern life also led them to focus on Argenteuil's leisure activities and urban visitors. Its pleasant river walks, recreational boating, and famous sailing races were depicted in many of their works. Renoir's vibrant Sailboats at Argenteuil, which shows the boat basin filled with activity, suggests the popularity of these events. The impressionists often set up their easels along the paths that lined the banks of the Seine. From such vantage points Monet painted expansive views that presented the range of Argenteuil's attractions: its broad, sunlit promenades, its tall avenues of trees, its calm waters. Monet, according to the contemporary novelist, Emile Zola, "brings Paris to the country....He loves with particular affection nature that man makes modern." Other artists, including Manet and Caillebotte, also focused on visitors from the city, who had become a ubiquitous feature of the Argenteuil landscape by the 1870s. In Manet's radiant painting, a mother and child stand on the banks of the river with their backs to the viewer, alone before an array of unmanned sailboats and low-lying laundry houses. Caillebotte depicted one bourgeois gentleman in his black hat and long coat striding purposefully along the Seine with his spirited dog at Petit Gennevilliers (just across the river from Argenteuil), where the artist owned a house.

Introduction | Impressionism | Group Exhibitions | The Paris Suburbs | Impressions of Nature
Impressionist Techniques | Landscapes of Modernity | Leisure | Group Dynamics