Claude Oscar Monet painted Girls in a Boat in 1887, along with many other paintings portraying his family on the Epte river. During this period, Monet’s wife, Alice Hoschedé, and their children were living in Giverny for about four years. Although the town was a perfect place to settle down, the artist was only able to grow roots there during the end of the 1880s, because of his extensive travels. Monet aimed to become a successful Impressionist painter, and to do so; he found it necessary to seek new landscapes to portray. Monet also painted The Blue Row Boat and The Boat at Giverny during this same year.
The Impressionists were very inspired by the Japanese art and its different aesthetics. With bright colors, and dark, defined contours, the Japanese produced woodcut prints that opposed the European aesthetic values, as well as working with themes of great respect for mother nature. These woodcut prints also depicted many artworks of women in boats, fishing or taking a stroll – an influence on Monet for the artwork Girls in a Boat. The unusual composition of the painting is also a reference to the Oriental style, as Monet cut half of the boat out of the artwork. This drastic change in composition construction is also seen as an influence of photography that was arising – like if the painting were a spontaneous shot of the camera.
The two female figures in the painting Girls in a Boat are Alice’s daughters, Suzanne and Blanche. In a highly Impressionistic style, Monet depicts the water with small strokes using a rich color palette. The canvas seems to be divided with a diagonal line of light and dark. The bottom part of the canvas shows the water and the reflection of the boat and the women in dark shades of blue, purple, violet, brown, and black. Monet beautifully captures the reflex on the wavy surface of the glistering water. Even the image of the white clouds reflected on the bottom half seems dark. The top half of the canvas is drenched in sunlight, although the overall color palette is cool. Both girls wear sun hats and long, white dresses. The water seen on the top part of the painting was painted in light shades of blue and white.
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