Claude Oscar Monet painted the floral still life simply entitled Asters in 1880. The artist had recently lost his beloved wife Camille Doncieux, who was the muse for many of his paintings, like in La Japonaise, The Woman in the Green dress, Madame Monet and Child in a Garden, and in many other artworks. She became sick in 1876 and passed away in 1879, about a year after the birth of Michel, their second child – Monet portrayed her on her deathbed.
The Impressionist and his wife had moved to Vétheuil, where they lived temporarily with the Hoschedé family. Ernst Hoschedé became Monet’s patron, but in 1878 he left for Belgium as he had gone bankrupt, leaving Monet to help the family financially. With the death of his wife, the painter relied on Alice Hoschedé to help him raise his children, as she had many kids of her own as well, and took his two sons to Paris with her. Eventually, their friendship blossomed into love and Monet, and Alice became lovers. In 1880, the same year the artist painted Asters, she returned to her home in Vétheuil, and they all joined as one big family.
The painting Asters was structured in a traditional way, for a still life. Monet centers the vase on the canvas filling more than half with the bundle of white, blossoming flowers. The glossy wooden table breaks the composition as the rounded corner can be seen ending on the bottom right side. The detail the painter gives to the table is exquisite, using a warm brown tonality to portray the carved details of the rims. The wood was painted in mostly dark shades of brown and looks to be highly polished, as the yellow-orange vase with blue and white painted ornaments reflects on the table.
The asters are highlighted in this still life, as they hold a dark green base, representing the leaves that are deep in the massive and loosely painted bouquet, making the white flowers with yellow cores pop in the viewer’s eyes. The background is particularly expressive, even though it is not the main subject of the painting. Monet beautifully combines the whole color palette on the back wall, in expressive brush strokes of brown, orange, green, blue, and yellow – giving this still life a genuinely Impressionistic atmosphere.
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