Claude Oscar Monet painted the intimate scene entitled A Woman Reading, in 1872. This period in the artist's career was of significant transformation, as he began to paint in a modern way. In fact, many other artists like Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frederic Bazille were also pending in the opposite direction than what the Classic Academies considered to be “good art.” A couple of years later, the group organized their first exhibit called the Salon des Refusés, referring to the fact that they were mostly rejected from the prestigious exhibition of the Paris Salon. It was after this groundbreaking art show that the group was named as the Impressionists – initially a pejorative term.
The artworks Monet produced during this period show his gradual change in style. The painting A Woman Reading reveals a clash of modern and classical painting techniques. The model wears a fashionable white dress and ornamented hat, indicating that she probably comes from a wealthy family. The attention to the detailed features of her face and hands give a realistic touch to this painting, as she looks down and prepares to turn a page of her book. The fabric is also carefully painted but with more visible strokes of white, blue and pink.
The woman sits on the grass under the shade, while the forefront of the canvas shows areas of vibrant sunlight peeking through the leaves of the trees. In the background, we can observe how Monet felt more inclined to loosen his brush strokes in a more Impressionistic manner, even though his color palette is still a little dull compared to his later works. The background is dark and painted with thick strokes of black, brown, and green.
Eventually, the Impressionists love for nature drove them into working mainly en plein air, meaning they preferred to paint outdoors and observe the natural sunlight on the surroundings – rather than idealizing the scene in their studios. Monet soon developed a technique where he worked on several canvases at once, changing to the next as the sun’s position changed. The oil painting A Woman Reading was most probably painted in the artist’s studio, but already shows Monet’s passion for nature and the beautiful effects of sunlight over a scene.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
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