Claude Oscar Monet painted A Palm Tree At Bordighera in 1884 when he visited the town that named the artwork, which was located on the Riviera of Italy, near the border of Italy and France. He primarily intended of staying in the city for three weeks but ended up working there for three months. The artist was fascinated by the Mediterranean and its vibrant landscapes drenched in sunlight – as he wrote to his fellow artist and friend Auguste Rodin about this passion for his new surroundings. A year before this, Monet had visited Bordighera with fellow Impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir but decided to return to experience working there alone.
The Impressionists would usually paint en plein air and in groups, meaning that they would meet in a specific location, often in nature, to portray it in oil paintings. They felt the need to observe the optical effects of natural sunlight on a landscape. The group’s love for nature only grew as they emerged themselves in forests, fields, gardens, and river banks. Monet had a passion for Japanese woodcut prints, as they portrayed subjects of nature and the everyday life with vibrant colors. The culture of the Orient was a refreshing opposition to the Traditional values that European art based itself on, and served as an alternative source of inspiration.
The oil painting A Palm Tree At Bordighera translates the artist's enthusiasm with this newly found landscape filled with colorful trees and other vegetation. In this particular painting, he placed the palm tree as the central figure. Monet used hints of blue on the overall brown trunk, as well as yellow and orange on the leaves. The vegetation around the central figure is exceptionally vibrant and colorful, with loose brush strokes of bright orange, red and yellow contrasting with the dark tonalities of the green leaves. The far background depicts blue mountains in the distance, as well as a calm sky with timid glimmers of pink and yellow.
The way the artist positions the palm tree, having its leaves exceed the limits of the canvas, can be seen as a symbol of his great respect for the immense power of nature – something he admired and repeatedly used as a theme for his artwork. Monet was mainly drawn to the palm trees of Bordighera, portraying them in other paintings like Palm Trees At Bordighera.
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