During the summer of 1867, Claude Oscar Monet went to Le Coteaux to visit his cousin Paul-Eugene Lecadre – owner of the Le Coteaux. This was quite near Monet’s childhood town, in which he would visit often. The artist was inspired by the new view and concluded many oil paintings of the landscape. His Impressionistic take on the sunlight reflecting the vibrant colors of nature makes Lady In A Garden one of the most valuable paintings produced at Le Coteaux – which portrays the wife of Lecadre, Jeanne Marguerite.
Like many other Impressionist, Monet was inspired by the Japanese woodcut prints that came to Europe. These exotic artworks brought subjects of nature and its calmness, along with bright colors and unusual compositions. Artists like Hokusai were admired for their simplicity. The direct contact artists had with nature was a fundamental influence on the aesthetic progression of the movement. They painted en plein air, meaning they worked outside to capture the optical effects natural sunlight had on the landscape and the figures. The Japanese also valued subjects of the every-day life – giving the modern painters a reference different from the ancient Greeks, something they strived to stay away.
In the landscape Lady In A Garden, Monet depicts a beautiful garden drenched in golden sunlight. The Impressionist creates an unusual composition, positioning Jeanne in the forefront on the far-left corner of the canvas. She is elegantly dressed in a long white gown and holding a white parasol. The artist used soft yellow to highlight her dress and blue for the shade. She is facing a blooming tree with white flowers, also in the forefront, standing in the middle of the canvas, on a red flower patch. The sunlight creates a diagonal shadow on the green grass.
The background is filled with tall, dark trees and bushes that lay against the sun – thus forming a beautiful contrast with the two main figures of the painting: Jeanne and the central flower patch. Behind this, another smaller illuminated tree was painted with tonalities of green and yellow. The far background is dark, and Monet featured light and contrasting bundles of pink and red flowers. Lady In A Garden is one of Monet’s many masterpieces, made from his love of nature and sunlight.
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