Impression Sunrise is one of Claude Monet’s most celebrated paintings. He painted the work between 1872 and 1873, during a trip back to his childhood home near the Normandy coast. First exhibited at the infamous “Exhibition of the Impressionists” of April 1874, the painting is subtle yet powerful.
Located in Paris, this exhibition showcased the pioneering work of artists in the impressionist movement. Contributing artists included Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, forming the avant-garde of French creativity at the time. Together, the artists displayed over two hundred artworks. Amongst great public excitement (as well as some unsympathetic critical remarks), the event launched the careers of the participating artists.
Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise inspired the name of the impressionist movement itself. Characterized by open compositions, small yet visible brush strokes and an emphasis on the changing qualities of light, impressionist art rose to fame during the 1870s and 1880s. Due to their rapid prominence, Claude Monet and other impressionist artists often faced severe critical opposition.
Monet himself claimed the title contained the word “impression” due to his purposefully hazy painting style. Rather than a direct, factual depiction of the port of Le Havre, it was simply his “impression” that day.
Indeed, Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise significantly strayed away from the classical style commonly favored by the French elite. Whilst French art traditionally idealized beauty, balance and symmetry, Monet’s loose brushstrokes suggested fleeting moments and emotion. The layering of colors creates a rich sense of depth, despite the imprecise details.
Impression Sunrise is a view of the port of Le Havre in the Normandy region of North-western France. It is part of a series of six beautiful Monet paintings depicting the port at various times of day. The Monet Sunrise painting became the artist’s most famous impression from the series.
Monet described the work simply as “something done out of my window at Le Havre”. He referenced the “sunlight in the mist with a few masts in the foreground” rising up from ships frequenting the busy port. The painting shows two small rowing boats at the very foreground of the image, whilst a red sun rises from the horizon.
In the middle distance, fishing boats and clipper ships sail past. Smoke from packet boats and steamships rises-up to form flowing shapes in the background. On the right-hand side of the painting, evocative silhouettes of masts and chimneys complete the scene.
Monet painted during the Industrial Revolution that swept across Europe and generated large-scale transformation of the French countryside. In order to feature these industrial elements, Monet chose not to depict the houses on the left-side of the jetty. This was because they would have obscured much of the background.
Among Claude Monet famous paintings, Impression Sunrise is surprisingly small (at just 48cm × 63cm). It’s small size perhaps made it an easy target for thieves. Stolen in 1985, it wasn’t recovered and returned to the Musée Marmottan Monet (Paris) until 1990.
When Impression Sunrise was Exhibited in Paris in 1874, it was not considered a “notable piece” but history as re-written the narrative and it is now one of the world’s most famous paintings.
During the period 1870-1870, Monet’s concentrated on paintings of the towns along the River Seine. One such painting is The Bridge at Argenteuil, which was painted in 1874 and is held by the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
Many of his oil painting on canvas scenes were recreated many times, each one emphasizing the effects of the everchanging natural light occurring at differing times of the day.
Monet’s Haystack paintings and those of the River Seine were two particular subjects which were frequently revisited.
Monet’s oil paintings are characterized by short visible brushstrokes. He was a prolific artist and is estimated to have produced almost 2500 paintings during his lifetime.
Nympheas (Water Lilies) 1906 was sold by Sotheby’s in 2014 for $54m. However, the highest price achieved for a Monet oil painting is when Mueles (Haystacks) c1890, was sold by Sotheby’s in 2019 for a record-breaking $110.7m.
He was born Claude Oscar Monet, in Paris, on November 14th 1840. However, from the age of 5, Monet was raised in Le Havre. His mother died in 1857 and his father was a merchant in the family shipping provisions company.
By the time he had reached 15, Monet had discovered his artistic talents and achieved a reputation locally, as a caricature artist. It was through an exhibition of his drawings in 1858 that Monet met the French landscape painter Eugene Boudin.
It was Boudin who introduced a young Monet to plein air painting. Plein Air painting, or painting outdoors, had a profound influence upon all of Monet’s famous oil paintings.
By 1859 Monet had committed himself to a career as an artist and he began to spend as much as possible time in Paris. He studied at the Academie Suisse and it there he first met fellow student, Auguste Renoir.
During the 1860’s Monet was associated with the pre-impressionist painter Edouard Manet, and along with other aspiring French painters of the time, mainly Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, Monet’s destiny was realized and the Impressionist School of Artists was formed.
In 1874, Monet and his colleagues organized their own first exhibition. To the critics, their work seemed sketchy and unfinished (like a first impression), but during the 1870s and 1880s Monet gradually refined this technique.
In 1878 Monet moved to Vetheuil, before moving finally to his beloved house and gardens in Giverny, during 1883.
The gardens at Giverny offered Monet continual inspiration. Monet Water Lilies paintings (also known Les Nympheas) became a dominant feature. Monet’s first series of Water Lily paintings were completed during the period 1897-99 and he embarked on what was to become a lifetime of fascination.
Please enjoy our extensive catalogue of oil painting reproductions of Monet Water Lily Pond paintings, together with many other famous Monet paintings completed during his 43 years in residence in Giverny.
One of Monet’s famous oil paintings, Water Lilies 1906 can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago, whilst another of his well-known impressionist oil paintings, Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge 1899 forms part of the Osborn Collection at Princeton University.
The gardens at Giverny provided Monet with constant and limitless pleasure; he planted the gardens with reference to color and an interest in botany became a central part of his life.
Many of the waterlily paintings are huge canvasses and Monet constructed an outdoor studio to accommodate them.
The Musee d‘Orangerie in Paris has provided a permanent exhibition of several large paintings, including the three panels comprising Reflections of Clouds on the Water Lily Pond c1920
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It is believed that there are in excess of 250 Claude Monet Water Lilies paintings which represent some of the most famous impressionist paintings of all time.
Another popular Claude Monet fine art reproductions is The Artist’s Garden, Giverny, 1900 which is displayed at the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.
By the mid-1880s Monet, generally was regarded as the leader of the Impressionist school, and he achieved significant recognition and financial security.
In 1920, whilst at Giverny, Monet started work on 12 enormous water lily paintings. However, by this this time his eyesight was failing and he struggled to complete them. Despite this, he did manage to carry on painting until his death in 1926.
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