A Painting by Claude Monet

Published: 2021-09-11 12:55:09
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Category: Painting

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Among the modern French paintings of the Cassatt Collection recently acquired by the Wilstach Fund and shortly to be placed on exhibition in the Museum are three examples of the work of Claude Monet, two of which at least are of his middle and best period. Trained (as one may say) in the School of Manet, Monet painted more or less in the manner of his great predecessor, until the Franco- Prussian War drove so many of the French artists to take refuge in London, when he, with Picasso, fell under the influence of Turner. At the zenith of his power (from 1829 to 1839) the great Englishman had adopted a method of laying on his colors which today is known as the procedi- de la tdche and is generally believed to have been the in- vention of the French Impressionists. Constable, whose finest work was produced between 1825 and 1837, also used this method.
A complete change in Monet’s art dates from this visit to London. Before him French landscape has been described as being in a minor “key”; in attacking the problem of painting sunlight by keying his shadows up in value, instead of darkening them to contrast violently with the lights, he raised his art into the “major”; so doing he pro- duced the illusion, for it is nothing more, of a truer presentation of sunlight. His compromise with reality is infinitely more vivid and therefore impresses us as being truer than that of his predecessors. He, rather than Manet, therefore, was the founder of this school. The first exhibition of this School, which was nicknamed “Im- pre8sioniste,” was held in Paris in 1874; by 1888 it was a recognized power in the art world and gradually revolutionized the whole of French landscape painting, which in turn reacted on that of the entire Western World. The picture selected for our cover illustration is a view of some Dutch city with a tree-bowered canal in the foreground; the towered building which arises in the centre beyond a drawbridge is probably the town hall. It is painted in the artist’s familiar pointiUiste manner, not so high in key as many of his later works, but deliciously pearly, although the mellowed Dutch brick of the houses are given their true value.
The purchases from the Cassatt Collection mentioned above com- prise eight pictures and are the most important addition to the Wilstach Collection made in recent years. The purchase included three paintings by Claude Monet, two by Camille Pissaro, and one each by Eduard Manet and by Auguste Renoir, as well as a small pastel by Degas.

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