Monet's 1873 Meadow With Poplars – also known as Poplars Near Argenteuil – is an exquisit work in the history of painting. The artist retured to Argenteuil and found a great serenety in the bright lanscapes of the area. He had just returned from England, escaping the frenetic activity of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.
Monet was influenced by the Japanese art and the woodcut prints that came to Europe, like many other Impressionists of the time. These exotic prints brought subjects of nature and its calmness, along with unusual compositions and bright colors. Many artists – like Hokusai – were admired for their simple style. 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.
Dominating vibrant rhythms and contours, which emerge from the natural world, the artist charismatically applies sharp brush strokes and dabs of paint that seem to dance across the canvas. This painting can almost be considered abstract, as the human figures are simply there to ancor the painting, fixing the diagonal slope of the hill as a scale of changing color and light.
Monet was interested in creating his Impressionistic reproduction of his place in nature instead of capturing the city atmosphere, something that never really interested him. In late 1871, he settled in Argentueuil, a rural area with beautiful landscapes that the artist was able to portray. The city was only eleven kilometers from Paris and Monet was able to comut by train. During this time, he decided to shun the city life, immersing himself in the natural surroundings beside the Seine river and perfecting his painterly craft. He created an aesthetic language based on the rural and rustic world.
The painting portrays a sunny day, and a person wearing a hat taking a stroll in the blossoming fields of pink and violet flowers. Monet paints a few red dots on the forefront portraying red flowers. There are two tall trees on the left side of the canvas and is usually the first figure the viewer sees. This composition leads the viewer from the trees to the man, then into the colors of the field, and lastly to the white clouds of the sky.
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