Tuesday, May 30, 2023

On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt by Claude Monet

On the Seine, Bencourt is one of Claude Monet’s most famous paintings. This work of art which hangs in the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago provides us with a turning point in French Impressionism.

This piece marks a turning point for Claude Monet and French Impressionism because for the first time the artist was freeing himself from the confines of the Academy standard (classical composition and form) known as plein air painting. The change here is to move away from the traditional forms of art that audiences are looking for and expecting. Monet is now taking this to a new level, freeing the viewer from the shackles of contour lines, perspective and local colour.

The scene here is of a woman sitting on a lawn by the river Seine. His hat lies beside her on the grass and both are covered in shadow. To his left are two large trees that provide shade covering him and the lawn. The woman is looking at the river with her back to us. A couple is swimming in a small boat on the river. Behind the houses along the river are a series of houses and fields. The scene is rural not urban and provides fresh sunlight and air for both painting and scene subjects. In the water you can see the reflection of the houses and landscape on the other side of the river. You will see that you can see the reflection of the house very clearly in the water covered with trees. Everything about this painting is fresh and relaxed.

The most important thing to understand here is the change of form and structure. Forms are not depicted or placed in the scheme of other events. The two trees on the right are important in that they provide support to the subject while at the same time they are tall, dark and imposing. The boat on the shore keeps our eyes focused on the lower part of the picture so that we can focus on the subject. The hat provides a visual escape as there is now water next to the woman but the hat acts like a small craft that is perched here.

Your Feedback is Welcome.

Stephen F. Kondren – artist

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