Claude Oscar Monet painted the landscape The Seine At Argenteuil in 1873, as he had moved to the semi-rural town in 1872 when he returned to France after fleeing the war with his wife, Camille. He painted the same view when he arrived, in the oil painting entitled Argenteuil, Seen from the Small Arm of the Seine. The Impressionist enjoyed his new surroundings and portrayed it in many paintings, especially around the Seine river, a common practice for many modern artists, like Edouard Manet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Vincent Van Gogh.
The Impressionists were not concerned in portraying an idealized scene in nature in a realistic style, but to express their experience in the environment. They observed the natural lighting and the optical effects it had on the landscape and the figures – the impact light had on water was especially fascinating to Monet. Because of these factors, the Impressionists preferred to work en plein air, meaning they painted outdoors. During this time, boating was very popular, and Argenteuil became a meeting point for competitors and enthusiasts, creating the perfect motif for Monet to portray scenes of the French life.
Monet and his colleagues were also very influenced by the exotic culture and art of the Orient, especially the Japanese art of Ukiyo-e, a technique similar to the traditional woodcut prints. These artworks were extremely different then what was produced and praised in the European art market, but it caught the attention of modern artists. With radically opposing aesthetic values to the Greeks standards, the Japanese prints brought a unique construction of compositions and perspective, vibrant colors, and figures with defined contours. This art revolved around daily scenes of every day life, and views of the majestic nature seen in Japan.
The oil painting The Seine At Argenteuil shows what seems to be an autumn scene with a cool color palette. The right side of the canvas shows many green and ochre-colored bushes on the river bank – the left side is farther from the viewer, has darker vegetation and a row of multiple tall ochre trees. The river reflects the colors and shapes of the trees, as well as the faraway white buildings and church seen on the horizon. The sky varies in tonalities of blue and some smaller and darker clouds can be seen gathering.
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