Claude Oscar Monet’s oil painting Luncheon on the Grass 2 was painted in 1865 and is a study for a panel that the artist never concluded. Monet intended to finish a large-scale painting on a panel that was four meters high and six meters wide. In fact, he worked on it for a while, but because of his financial difficulties, in 1866 he was forced to stop working use the painting as a security deposit since he did not pay his rent. His landlord simply rolled up the canvas and stored it in his cellar until the artist had enough money to pay his dues. Unfortunately, the painting grew mold and Monet decided to cut out the pieces that he could save – the artwork turned into three fragments.
To be able to work on a large-scale piece like Monet intended, many smaller studies had to be made prior to the final panel. Out of these series of studies, Luncheon on the Grass 2 stands out for being a finished artwork on its own – even though it was made with the intention of being a study. This oil painting is seen as a reference to Edouard Manet’s painting Le Dejeuner Sur l’Herbe (The Picnic), from the Realism movement, concluded only two years earlier. Manet’s work was not well received by the art critics when it was exhibited in the Salon des Refusés – a Salon created by modern artists whose work were not accepted in the official Salon of Paris. Monet seemed to be paying a sort of tribute to the Realist with Luncheon on the Grass 2.
From analyzing the existing panels of the final work and the study Luncheon on the Grass 2, we can conclude that very few changes were made. The most noticeable and essential modification made was that one of the men sitting on the picnic cloth on the floor is later portrayed with a full beard, resembling the Realist, Gustav Courbet. This masterpiece is filled with colorful and joyful people enjoying a picnic in the shade of the tall trees. Monet created a harmonious atmosphere with his use of light and shadow, as well as his choice of color palette. This ordinary scene was considered a very modern subject at the time and not well seen by the conservative art critics.
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