Claude Monet 1840-1926 BACK

Gare St-Lazare
oil on canvas 75x104cm
Musee d'Orsay

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In 1876 Monet took a studio apartment in Rue Moncey close to the Gare Saint-Lazare, and from there, in 1877, between January and March, completed twelve paintings of the station. At this time he also had an apartment in the Rue d'Edinbourg, even closer to the station, so including his house at Argenteuil he actually had three residences. Evidently he was far from being poor.

As a group, these twelve paintings represent the last of his modern-life subjects, after which he turned completely to the natural landscape. The railway station was at that time the single most powerful reminder of the importance of industrialization to modern man, and a number of painters had treated the subject, the most emotive and romantic version being 'Wrner's Bain, Steam and Speed of 1844. Turner had seen the train as a powerful force thrusting itself unfeelingly through a protesting nature, a dark and menacing beast, but Monet's train is very different - a delicate shape contained in an atmospheric web made of the intricate ironwork. His concern is with light and atmosphere, just as it would have been in a landscape of trees and water, but here they have been given a special character by the presence of the smoke and steam filtering the sunlight.
excerpt from Monet by Trewin Copplestone

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