We will soon learn a lot about Monet's ’Boating’ ideas. We are
going to reveal a lot of exciting secrets. But at first we have to
look at one of Monet´s favourites and perhaps the very beginning of
the ’Boating adventures’.
It is also easy to see a strong relationship between our River
Scene, (particularly the first state), and "On
the bank of the Seine, Bennecourt", 1868, (W.110).
On the bank of the Seine, Bennecourt
Looking at this painting we
shall again listen to Douglas Skeggs: “The light generated on the
water is a masterpiece of observation. Monet has analyzed each
colour in turn, dissecting the overall effect with the precision of
a surgeon. Few artists before could claim to have stolen the
afternoon light with such skill,..”,(River of Light, p.53).
This description by Skeggs
is also brilliant: “In ‘On the bank of the Seine at Bennecourt’
there is a subtle alteration in focus, a shift of emphasis so
slight, so seductive that we are scarcely aware of its insistence.
Camille sits in the long grass gazing at the scene before her,
engrossed in a daydream. She acts as a signpost in the composition,
redirecting the focus of the painting. Instead of holding our
attention, she deflects it towards the sun drenched village on the
far shore. The dark screen leaves, the filtered light and the
direction of her gaze all combine to thrust our interest away from
foreground into the whole area of the painting until we too, like
her, become absorbed in the powdery light beyond”. This painting was
not “dashed off” in the inspiration of an afternoon. Monet
built the painting up over a period of days, deliberating on the
overall design, calculating and reworking effects of colour and
brushwork.”, (Skeggs p.52). This can easily be seen e.g. the
reworked part over Camille's lap.
For a funny little detail - take a close look
at the boat, lying at the opposite shore. Do you see the little
‘streak’ – it is an oar! Click
HERE for a close-up.
This little oar
instinctively takes us back to our ‘River Scene’. And there it is,
painted in a similar way, the oar. Perhaps we can say that we, in
our minds, have the impression of this ‘quick streak’ being an oar!
Looking at our River Scene we
can see how the
oar vanishes down into the moving water -
try and see how masterly it is painted! You can
really see the flowing water, and the boat
floating, with the sun shining into the water under it. This is very
interesting indeed! Did you notice this? We do
see the sun shining into the water under the
boat, and then we have the sun reflected on the whole sheet of the
water surface up to the bridge – in the same painting! See
also how the shadow from the boat is falling towards us – created by
painting over the water to the right of the boat and up on the
riverbank. This can not
have been painted by anyone else but – Claude Monet!
When we are on the look out
for ‘more oars’ it is not far to seek. Look at ‘Bathing at la
Grenouillère’, 1869, there they are - the same oars, lying in
the boats, painted with the same ‘streaks’ as our oar!
HERE for a comparison of the oars.
Here we simply have to listen to Virginia Spate
again: "...in the process of painting, during
which Monet came to see reflection, shadow and sunlight sinking into
the depths of the water, and to find ways of reconciling this kind
of seeing into depth with the kind of seeing which slips across the
reflective surface of the water.”
HERE for a comparison depth sense.
Interesting here is the
discussion about when these boating paintings are executed: Only one
is dated, 'Girls in a boat' – 1887. Since it is similar in
conception and mood to 'In the norvégienne'
and the ’Blue boat’ they may date from the same year. The three
paintings can be distinguished from the ’Pink boat’ and ’Boating on
the Epte’ in that they have a reflecting water surface, while the
latter two show the depths of the water; (Spate Ch 4 note 89).
Perhaps 'The River
Scene' is the first attempt by Monet to paint
boats, cut in this ‘Japanese’ way? Perhaps we will have the answer
in the future - if we can find out what all the figures mean, that
are written on the backs of our paintings! More about this further
Press HERE for next page