Claude Monet 1840-1926 BACK

Houses on the Edge of the Field
oil on canvas 54x73cm
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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This painting is a paradigm of how a simple scene can be made sublime by Monet's keen eye and sensitivity to the effects of harmonious contrast. The view is divided into three roughly equal zones: one for the foreground flowers, one for the houses and trees, the other for the windblown sky. Despite covering a similar amount of the picture plane, each band could not be more different. The foreground field is ablaze with color, a sea of soft yellow flowers and blood red poppies, all rendered in small, variegated touches. The sky is more limited in hue and more broadly painted. It is also more dramatic, with its division between the open and airy region on the left and the overcast area on the right. Between these contrasting expanses rise the houses and trees. They are welcome vertical notes in what is otherwise a predominantly stratified scene. Two types of trees enliven this band and link the earth and sky: thin, recently planted saplings along the edge of the field, with fluttering leaves that echo the flower blossoms; and larger, more mature specimens in the background, with rounded, huskier forms that mimic the shapes of the clouds.
excerpt from Impressionists at Argenteuil

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