Claude Oscar Monet painted Madame Monet and Child (Camille Monet and a Child in a Garden) in the year of 1875, a portrait of his beloved wife Camille and their son, Jean, in their garden at Argenteuil. The river of Seine passed along this city, a theme portrayed by many modern painters of the time. The couple lived together in the town near Paris from 1872 to 1877, when they moved to Vétheuil, a small village.
During the summer of 1875, Monet portrayed his first wife repeatedly, and in some occasions with their son, resulting in masterpieces like The Walk Woman with Parasol and La Japonaise (or Camille Monet in Japanese Costume). The artist had not painted full-canvas portraits of his wife since 1868. In Madame Monet and Child (Camille Monet and a Child in a Garden), the painter’s Impressionistic style is not yet in full bloom, but indicatives can already be seen in his style. Although this painting seems like a realistic portrayal of a daily scene, Monet’s brush strokes are loose and vivid – something he will accentuate later in his career, as well as manipulating the dimensions of the scene, making landscapes seem two-dimensional.
Monet was significantly inspired by the Japanese woodcut prints that came to Europe, as many other modern painters were as well. These vibrant artworks, precisely crafted in the Ukiyo-e technique brought subjects of exuberant nature and typical scenes of the everyday life. The Impressionists pre-existing love for nature grew even more as they collected Japanese prints. The painters would often join in groups and work together en plein air, meaning they painted outside to capture the essence of natural lighting on the landscape, as well as experiencing their surroundings.
In the oil painting Madame Monet and Child (Camille Monet and a Child in a Garden), the artist placed Camille centered on the canvas, as she is the most important figure. She is wearing a blue long-sleeved dress and looks down at her needle-work. To her right, sitting on the floor, their infant baby is portrayed in similar clothing and pose. A wooden horse toy stands between mother and child. The background depicts green grass and full bright bushes with pink and red flowers.
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