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  • Claude Monet
    Nov 14, 1840 - Dec 5, 1926
  • Sun Setting Over the Seine at Lavacourt, Winter Effect - 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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Sun Setting Over the Seine at Lavacourt, Winter Effect
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  • Sun Setting Over the Seine at Lavacourt, Winter Effect

  • Claude Monet
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  • 1880
    Oil on canvas
    150 x 101 cm
    Musée de la Ville de Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France.

    Lavacourt is a village in the Paris area, located on the left bank of the Seine, opposite the village of Vétheuil where Monet was based in September 1878. The winter of 1879 was particularly harsh.

    Paris and the surrounding area were paralysed by snow and all transport stopped. Despite the intense cold, Monet painted twenty or so paintings during the first months of 1880, observing the ice on the Seine slowly thawing.

    At that time, a lack of money drove the painter to try to enter the official Salon again, which he had given up in favour of impressionist exhibitions since it rejected his works in 1870. For the 1880 Salon, Monet prepared a deliberately toned down view of Lavacourt which was selected by the jury, as well as a flooded landscape showing the ice thawing on the Seine - undoubtedly the painting at the Petit Palais - which was rejected. Indeed, in this second work Monet gave freer rein to pictorial experimentation.

    The topographical aspect of the village barely figures here, while the use of colour emphasises the importance of the air and water. The effect of cold mist is conveyed with fine, fluid strokes in the upper third of the painting. The water and the banks are painted with wider strokes with impasto highlights. The orange of the sunset placed at the very centre of the composition brings to mind the famous painting of 1872, Impression, Sunrise (Paris, Marmottan Museum), the title of which was the origin of the word impressionist. This way of painting gives an impression of haste, instability and transience which is fitting for the twilight hour.

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Other paintings by Claude Monet:

Water-Lily Pond, Water Irises
Water-Lily Pond, Water Irises
The Road Bridge at Argenteuil
The Road Bridge at Argenteuil
Spring
Spring
Portrait of Little Louis Gaudibert
Portrait of Little Louis Gaudibert
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.