Claude Monet 1840-1926 BACK

The Studio Boat
oil on canvas 50x64cm
Kroller-Muller Museum

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Growing up in Saint-Adresse, a bourgeois suburb of the industrial port city of Le Havre, Monet was familiar with nautical craft and had painted them in all shapes and sizes throughout his youth. One of his earliest works is a pencil drawing of frigates and dories he saw regularly along the coast of the English Channel. There is no record of Monet's having done much traveling by boat, except when fleeing to England and Holland during the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. Nor is there evidence that he ever owned a boat before moving to Argenteuil. His father earned his living servicing larger ships as a chandler, so perhaps until this time boats were too closely associated with labor to instill notions of leisure.

That Monet at age thirty-three purchased a boat and rendered it so faithfully is significant on a personal and a practical level. It speaks of his success, as such a boat would have been expensive. Monet earned 24,8oo francs the previous year, or twice what doctors and lawyers were making in Paris at the time, and he was ordering his wines from Narbonne and Bordeaux instead of drinking cheaper local vintages. At the same time, he must have believed that the boat was a reasonable investment. Although he was generally careful about money, he never skimped on professional expenses. He bought his, painting supplies from one of the best houses in Paris, for instance, and maintained a studio in the capital so that he could meet dealers and collectors; he was keen to ensure that his canvases would remain in superb physical condition over time (as most of his work from the Argenteuil period has). Monet also had unwavering confidence in himself as an artist it would do what it took to advance his career.
excerpt from Impressionists at Argenteuil

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