Claude Oscar Monet painted Canal In Amsterdam in 1874, the same year he joined other modern artists to work together in the region of Paris. Along with Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre Auguste Renoir, the artists organized exhibitions that went against the academy, as their work was often not well received by the official Salon of Paris. As an Impressionist, Monet – as well as other artists who worked along with him – valued working en plein air, meaning they painted outside to capture the natural light of the landscape, producing a non-idealized scene.
Although their first exhibition was soon to take place at Société Anonyme des Artistes, Monet left for the Netherlands, coming back to France about three months later. During this period, the Impressionist painted many Dutch landscapes as well as many other subjects. In Canal In Amsterdam, Monet worked in a very freely – most likely en plein air, meaning he painted on location, as the Impressionists valued the observation of the optical effect of natural sunlight on the landscape.
The artist portrays the busy canals of Amsterdam with shades of blue, white, and violet. The green and ochre buildings on the right of the canvas reflect on the water as well. A boat is featured on the forefront, and a bridge with many people is right behind it. A small green house is oddly placed on the left corner, and a dark green vegetation emerges behind it. The treetops have specks of purple that pop out from the white and light blue sky. The enormous church in the far background is painted in shades of blue and violet, with details in complementary yellow.
Monet, along with many of his colleges, was deeply influenced by the Japanese woodcut prints that were arriving in Europe. These artworks were aesthetically appealing to the modern artists and broke with the Classic Greek values and rules. The Japanese artists worked with a technique called Ukiyo-e that resulted in vibrant colors, unusual compositions, and dark contours. Modern artists wished to break with the mythical and biblical subjects in their work and were inspired by the exotic artworks of Japan, as the printmakers portrayed nature and scenes of every-day life.
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