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  • Claude Monet
    Nov 14, 1840 - Dec 5, 1926
  • Dejeuner sur l'herbe (The Picnic). Right fragment - Claude Monet was a French painter, initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style. He is regarded as the archetypal Impressionist in that his devotion to the ideals of the movement was unwavering throughout his long career, and it is fitting that one of his pictures - Impression: Sunrise (Musée Marmottan, Paris; 1872) - gave the group his name.
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Dejeuner sur l'herbe (The Picnic). Right fragment
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  • Dejeuner sur l'herbe (The Picnic). Right fragment

  • Claude Monet
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  • Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Picnic). Right fragment.
    Oil on canvas
    H. 248,7 ; L. 218,0 cm.
    Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France.

    This fragment, there is a second also in the Musée d'Orsay, is one of the remaining parts of the monumental Luncheon on the Grass by Monet. The work was started in the spring of 1865 and measured over four metres by six. It was intended to be both a tribute and a challenge to Manet whose painting of the same title had been the subject of much sarcasm from the public as well as the critics when it was exhibited in the Salon des Refusés in 1863. But the project was abandoned in 1866, just before the Salon where Monet intended to show it, opened.

    In 1920, the painter himself recounted what had happened to the picture: "I had to pay my rent, I gave it to the landlord as security and he rolled it up and put in the cellar. When I finally had enough money to get it back, as you can see, it had gone mouldy." Monet got the painting back in1884, cut it up, and kept only three fragments. The third has now disappeared.

    Monet started by producing a series of small studies from life, then made a more finished and worked sketch in the studio (Moscow, Pushkin Museum). The most noticeable difference between the sketch and the painting is the replacement of the young beardless man sitting on the tablecloth, with a strapping bearded fellow who bears a striking resemblance to Courbet. Courbet had been to see Monet and Bazille in their shared studio during the winter of 1865-1866. According to Bazille, he was, "enchanted" by The Luncheon on the Grass. This account differs from that of Gustave Geffroy, who said that Courbet's comments were the reason why Monet abandoned the painting. However the two accounts are not incompatible – a negative opinion might have been formulated after the compliments. The fact remains that Monet wrote to Bazille in 1865: "I can think of nothing but my painting and if I had to leave it, I think I would go mad" It is therefore easy to imagine how discouraging Monet would have found the slightest hint of reticence from the master of the avant-garde.

    Whether Courbet had been critical or not, Monet would have been perfectly aware of the difficulties in transposing the sketch into a monumental painting. He accentuated the contrasts in light and shade, heightened the colours, and furthermore maintained the radiance and spontaneity of the studies. In April 1866, seeing that he would be unable to finish the immense painting for the Salon, Monet announced his decision to Armand Gautier to "leave on one side for the moment all my current large projects which only use up my money and get me into difficulties. ".

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Other paintings by Claude Monet:

Adolphe Monet Reading in the Garden
Adolphe Monet Reading in the Garden
Bouquet of Sunflowers
Bouquet of Sunflowers
Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte
Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte
Houses of Parliament, Westminster
Houses of Parliament, Westminster
Claude MonetIn 1890 Monet had bought a strip of marshland across the road from his house and flower garden, through which flowed a tributary of the Epte. By diverting this stream, he began to construct a water-lily garden. Soon weeping willows, iris, and bamboo grew around a free-form pool, clusters of lily pads and blossoms floated on the quiet water, and a Japanese bridge closed the composition at one end. By 1900 this unique product of Monet's imagination (for his Impressionism had become more subjective) was in itself a major work of environmental art--an exotic lotus land within which he was to meditate and paint for more than 20 years. The first canvases of lilies, water, and the Japanese bridge were only about one yard square, but their unprecedented open composition, with the large blossoms and pads suspended as if in space, and the azure water in which clouds were reflected, implied an encompassing environment beyond the frame. This concept of embracing spatiality, new to the history of painting and only implicit in the first water-lily paintings, was expanded by 1925 into a cycle of huge murals to be installed in Paris in two 80-foot oval rooms in the Orangerie of the Tuileries. These were described in 1952 by the painter André Masson as "the Sistine Chapel of Impressionism." This crowning achievement of Monet's long, probing study of nature--his striving to render his impressions, as he said, "in the face of the most fugitive effects"--was not dedicated until after his death. The many large studies for the Orangerie murals, as well as other unprecedented and unique works painted in the water garden between 1916 and 1925, were almost unknown until the 1950s but are now distributed throughout the major private collections and museums of the world. Despite failing eyesight, Monet continued to paint almost until his death in 1926.