Claude Oscar Monet visited the coast of Normandy during the summer of 1882, where he concluded many paintings with different subjects. While in Varengeville, the impressionist painted a series of landscapes portraying this church, and would simultaneously work on multiple canvases at once, going from one to another as the natural lighting changed. The Church At Varengeville Against The Sunset is one of the artworks from these series.
The Impressionists were significantly influenced by the Oriental culture – which represented an opposition to the Classic Greek template in which European art revolved around. The Japanese woodcut prints came to France, many times without any value, and many modern painters collected these masterpieces. Japanese artists perfected the Ukiyo-e technique, which is similar to a traditional woodcut but uses rice gum and watercolor on rice paper. These artworks displayed scenes of the daily life or nature, in vibrant colors and dark contours. The Japanese art contributed to Monet’s love for nature, and the Impressionists would work en plein air – meaning they painted outdoors. The primary concern for these artists was the observation of the passing effects of natural sunlight on a landscape and figures.
During this period, Monet decided not to follow the ways of the Impressionists strictly and finished the landscape Church At Varengeville Against The Sunset at his studio. Monet used a rich color palette of earthy and warm tonalities to create a captivating and welcoming painting. In the forefront, the painter used swift rapid brush strokes to portray the multicolored bushes. With a dark base of blue, purple, green, and black, the bushes gain life – the sunlight reflects beautiful specks of red, yellow and pink on the vegetation. Two large dark trees, also on the forefront, sprout from the colorful bushes, almost touching the top of the canvas.
The background depicts a faraway hillside of green grass, highlighted in pink. Following the same colors, Monet portrays the silhouette of a church. The strokes are longer and thicker than the more detailed bushes of the front. The far background shows a horizon in soft colors of yellow-green. The pink clouds and yellow sky also give a warm atmosphere to the sunset painting, as well as the overall bright pink of the landscape.
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