Claude Monet 1840-1926 BACK

The Boulevard Heloise, Argenteeuil
oil on canvas 35x59cm
Yale University Art Gallery

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MONET, Boulevard Heloise

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It is nonetheless surprising to encounter this candid view of Monet's backyard. Completed in the summer Of 1873 and depicting the grounds of his first home in Argenteuil, located on the rue Pierre Guienne, this work radiates an almost palpable luminosity. So vivid are the colors that it seems as if Monet consciously plumbed each for its most intense physical components, then wedded one with another in a manner that allowed each hue to stand forcefully on its own. As a result, few canvases from the period equal the simple yet stunning effects he achieved here. Ironically, few are quite as inscrutable either: the forms can be easily read, but their meanings are elusive.

Monet graciously invites us into the scene, with its spacious foreground embracing a wide beige stone dust path that is interrupted only by the artist's signature at the right. With its hard-packed surface and crisp, converging edges, the path defines a broad trapezoidal shape that runs the length of the house and closes in a boldly illuminated bed of flowers. Only at the far end of the garden and along the left side of the yard does sun strike directly. Most of the path and the entire house are cast in shadow. Monet even mixes various blues in the beiges of the path to decrease its luminosity. Yet he fills the space with so much light that the upper story of the house, with its warm, soft yellows, acts as a kind of substitute for the sun.
excerpt from Impressionists at Argenteuil

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