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And now let's take a closer look at the painting that gave Impressionism its name. You might first find it interesting to learn that although the title makes you think of a painting that was completed quite quickly, Claude Monet started it in 1872, the date found on the canvas right next to his signature, but ended it the following year.

The painting depicts the stretch of sea in front of the port of Le Havre, the Normandy town overlooking the English Channel. Describing the exhibition which included the painting with an indignant tone, art critic Emile Cardon wrote: "The aim of these painters is no longer to create shapes, patterns, and expressions; they suffice simply by creating an impression, without precise lines, colors, shadows, or lights. To fulfill such an extravagant theory they fall into a senseless, absurd, grotesque muddle, which is fortunately unprecedented in art, as it is simply a negation of the most elementary rules of drawing and painting".

As you can see however, the natural scene doesn't create an impression of immutability, but seems alive and dynamic: even the slightest variation in light causes changes in reality and perception. The choice of subject is not random and reflects the painter's tastes. Water surfaces especially attracted Monet and the Impressionists because these flickering, indefinite, and constantly moving images allowed them to create fluid areas that reflect objects, lights, and colors. Note the freedom with which the artist applied the brushstrokes, creating evocative effects that stimulate the spectator's imagination and poetic sensitivity. The boats and people (perhaps fishermen) are simply dark shadows with rough profiles which are lost and almost blend into the vast ocean spaces. The harbor in the background is almost entirely covered by the morning mist: you can only see indistinct shapes and infer the presence of the sailing ship, cranes, and chimneys in the background. But the element that most attracts your gaze is the red-orange ball of the sun, whose rays are reflected and multiplied in the water and which colors the sky with infinite, imperceptible, extremely picturesque shades.


FUN FACT: while they were setting up the exhibition at Nadar's studio, Monet's brother kept asking him what he'd name the picture. Annoyed, the painter snorted: "Write 'Impression'!". And he did.

And with this we have finished our tour of the Marmottan Museum. MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

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