Claude Oscar Monet painted Bordighera 1 in 1884 when he visited the town that named the painting. This city is located on the Italian Riviera and is near the border of France and Italy. Monet worked there for about three months, even though he intended on staying only three weeks. He was fascinated with the vibrant natural light of the Mediterranean and wrote about this in a letter to his friend, Auguste Rodin, who was also a painter.
The Impressionist was significantly influenced by the Oriental culture coming into Europe, especially the Japanese woodcut prints which he – and many other artists – colected. Artists like Hokusai produced vibrant artworks with themes of nature and the everyday life. This simplicity captivated modern painters and propeled them to approach nature, as many moved away from the big cities, like Paris, and went to the country side. The Impressionists also developed their technique by painting en plein air, meaning they worked on location and in nature to capture the optical efects of natural sunlight.
This landscape is abundant in vegetation, inserting the viewer directly in the wilderness. Curvy and thin branches with tonalities of brown and blue are portrayed in the forefront. With rapid and swift brush strokes, Monet complements the first plan with green leaves and orange specks of paint. The abundant light glimmers on the vegetation and creates contrasting dark areas. In the background, the Impressionist depicts the city of Bordighera almost centered on the canvas. With simple loose brush strokes of ochre, brown, and blue, Monet represents the faraway town in a very modern way. To the left of the canvas, more vegetation is shown.
The far background portrays the vast, calm, and dark blue sea. The trees in the forefront cover almost the whole sky, which appears to be clear of clouds. Monet plays with the composition of this painting, as he positions the main subject – the city – in the background and gives more visual importance and detail to the vegetation of the landscape. Monet’s love for nature, as well as his love for the observation of the sunlight, was apparent is Bordighera 1, as well as most of his production during his artistic career.
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