With Manet's assistance, Monet found lodging in suburban Argenteuil in late 1871, a move that initiated one of the most fertile phases of his career. Impressionism evolved in the late 1860s from a desire to create full–scale, multi–figure depictions of ordinary people in casual outdoor situations. At its purest, impressionism was attuned to landscape painting, a subject Monet favored. In Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son, his skill as a figure painter is equally evident. Contrary to the artificial conventions of academic portraiture, Monet delineated the features of his sitters as freely as their surroundings. The spontaneity and naturalness of the resulting image were praised when it appeared in the second impressionist exhibition in 1876.
Woman with a Parasol was painted outdoors, probably in a single session of several hours' duration. The artist intended the work to convey the feeling of a casual family outing rather than a formal portrait, and used pose and placement to suggest that his wife and son interrupted their stroll while he captured their likenesses. The brevity of the moment portrayed here is conveyed by a repertory of animated brushstrokes of vibrant color, hallmarks of the style Monet was instrumental in forming. Bright sunlight shines from behind Camille to whiten the top of her parasol and the flowing cloth at her back, while colored reflections from the wildflowers below touch her front with yellow.
lower right: Claude Monet 75
From the artist in 1876 to Dr. Georges de Bellio [1828-1894], Paris; by inheritance to M and Mme [she née Victorine de Bellio,1863-1958] Ernest Donop de Monchy, Paris, until at least 1897. Possibly (Paul Rosenberg and Co., London, New York, and Paris). Georges Menier, Paris, by 1924; (Menier sale, Palais Galliera, Paris, 15 June 1965, no. 121); purchased by (Hector Brame, Paris) for Paul Mellon [1907-1999], Upperville, VA; gift 1983 to NGA.
- Le 2e Exposition de Peinture [Second Impressionist Exhibition], Paris, 1876, no. 161, as Promenade
- Première exposition de collectionneurs au profit de la Société des Amis du Luxembourg, Paris, 1924, no. 166, repro.
- French Paintings from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and Mrs. Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1966, no. 85, repro
- Capolavori Impressionisti dei Musei Americani, Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples; Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, 1986-1987, no. 30, repro.
- Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist
- The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986, no. 32, repro.
- Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990, no. 35, repro.
- From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, National Gallery of Greece, Athens, 1992-1993, no. 47, repro.
- Claude Monet: 1840-1926, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1995, no. 42, repro., as The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean (Woman with a Parasol).
- Rings: Five Passions in World Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 1996, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
- An Enduring Legacy: Masterpieces from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1999-2000, no cat.
- Around Impressionism: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999, no cat. (returned early to NGA for inclusion in An Enduring Legacy exhibition).
- Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1999, no. 42, repro.
- The Impressionists at Argenteuil, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, 2000, no. 46, repro.
- Claude Monet - Fields in Spring, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 2006, no. 4, repro.
- Women in Impressionism: from Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 2006-2007, no. 64, repro.
- Claude Monet 1840-1926, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 2010-2011, no. 155, repro.
- Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 2011, no. 31, repro.
- Goldwater, Robert. "The Glory that was France." Art News 65 (March 1966):42, repro. cover.
- Wildenstein, Daniel. Claude Monet: biographie et catalogue raisonné. 5 vols. Lausanne and Paris, 1974-1991: no. 381.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 483, no. 714, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 282, repro.
- Bernard, Bruce. The Impressionist Revolution. London, 1986:254, repro. 135
- Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Exh. cat. Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990: no. 35, repro.
- Gingold, Diane J., and Elizabeth A.C. Weil. The Corporate Patron. New York, 1991: 31, color repro. (of poster).
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: x, 264, 266, 277, color repros.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 194, repro.
- Kelder, Diane. The Great Book of French Impressionism, 1997, no. 174, repro.
- Adler, Shane. “Whiteness." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:939.
- Pitman, Dianne W. Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998: 207-210, repro. no. 132.
- Tucker, Paul Hayes. The Impressionists at Argenteuil. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford. Washington and Hartford, 2000: no. 46.
- Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA II: Covers and Essays from The Journal of the American Medical Association. Chicago, 2001: 24-25, color repro.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 382-383, no. 317, color repro.