Claude Oscar Monet painted Sailing Boats At Honfleur during one of his visits to the town on the French coast. In early 1864, the Impressionist had visited the same town with his friend, and also an artist – Frederic Bazille. They painted the coast as well as the countryside together in an Impressionistic manner. Monet is famous for his paintings of sailboats, and it was one of his favorite themes. As a modern artist, subjects of transportation were of keen interest.
The Impressionists, like Monet, were influenced by the different aesthetics of the Japanese art. Artists like Hokusai worked with the precise technique of woodcut prints to create beautiful works of art with vivid colors, dark contours, and non-traditional compositions. The Orient brought Europe a view upon the world that opposed the modern times, and artists showed this in their work as they depicted subjects of the every-day life and nature. This was a significant influence on modern painters, who also valued these themes. The Impressionists began to work en plein air as they felt the need to experience the natural surroundings and observe the effects of natural lighting on the landscape.
The oil painting Sailing Boats At Honfleur has a subtle color palette, as Monet chooses not to use vibrant pigments. A sailboat tied to the pier is the central figure of the painting. It is half black and white and is portrayed with much detail, even though it was painted loosely. The boat reflects beautifully on the water, as does the yellow sunlight – which also reflects on the bottom of the boat.
The pier on the right side of the canvas depicts many people standing and talking, all in shades of black, gray and dark blue. Behind them, we can see a series of sails of other boats that are not in the range of view. The water is light blue and yellow, reflecting the dark shades of the pier as well. The background of the left side of the canvas portrays an orange and black boat, possibly heading to the dock. The far-away city can be seen on the far horizon, and the sky is bright in a light toned and soft blue – although the rest of the canvas was painted with more visible brush strokes.
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