Claude Oscar Monet painted the landscape entitled Effet de Neige, Soleil couchant – roughly translated as Snow Effect, Setting Sun – in 1875. This artwork was concluded only a year after the first Impressionist art show in the Salon des Refusés, meaning it was an exhibit for the artists who didn’t fit in the standards of what the Academy considered good art. Since the Paris Salon was the only path for a painter to gain significant success in Europe at the time, modern painters had no choice but to create an alternative platform to show their production.
During this period, Monet lived in Argenteuil with his family, in a house on the Saint-Denis boulevard, very near the Seine river – a theme many modern painters loved to portray. They moved there in 1872, returning from to their home country after the war. The harsh winter served as an excellent motif for Monet to study color while observing a white landscape. The painter visited many artists during this period in Argenteuil, like Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Edouard Manet – who Monet was constantly being compared.
In the oil painting Effet de Neige, Soleil couchant, Monet captures the essence of a cold and quiet snowy day. The ground was painted with a light brown base color, which peeks out of the white snow in some areas – like on the path and areas of growing vegetation. Two people can be seen taking the icy trail into the tall, thin trees with brown and ochre leaves. The snow that covers most of the ground and the rooftops is simply painted with white and light blue specks of thick paint. The sky was depicted in these same two colors, but over a light yellow base, as if the warm sun was still behind the cold landscape.
The Impressionist’s worked mostly en plein air, meaning they painted outdoors. The movement strived to observe and capture the fleeting effects of sunlight on the landscape, and to do so; they could not be confined to their studio. In many occasions, members the group joined to paint the same scene and discuss technique. Eventually, many artists moved away from Paris to the countryside, willing to get closer to nature and away from the bustle of the big cities.
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