In 1896 and 1897, Monet rose at 3:30 in the morning in his village of Giverny to work on a project of capturing early morning light as it appeared through the fog. By dawn, he was in the small boat he kept on a branch of the Seine for use as a floating studio. An observer recorded that the painter worked simultaneously on fourteen canvases, all depicting this exact spot, shifting from one to another as the strengthening sun burned through the mist. Monet spent the decade of the 1890s pursuing his innovative concept of series paintings, showing the same motif in varying conditions of light, time, and atmosphere. Of the twenty known versions of this subject, this one is among the most delicate, the features of the distant landscape obscured by the diffused light through the mist.
The Mornings on the Seine series is different from the exuberant Impressionism of Monet’s earlier sunset from Etretat (also in the Museum’s collection). Both are scenes of his home province of Normandy, but the color range in the later paintings is more limited, and the brushwork is thinner and softer, creating a more subtle texture. The format of the river views is almost square, giving them an abstract quality. It was at about the same time that Monet began to create the famous paintings of the Japanese bridge over his water-lily pond, which share the format and mood of the Mornings on the Seine. While some of the artist’s later works are increasingly bold, this painting exemplifies Monet at his most poetic and introspective.
tags: environment, water, observation, reflection, change, perspective, time, weather
Purchased with funds from the Sarah Graham Kenan Foundation and the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)