Collection Comparison: Monet’s Coastlines

In the Collection Comparison series, we pair one work from Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland with a similar work from the Phillips’s own permanent collection. 

Monet compare

(left) Claude Monet, Calm Weather, Fécamp, 1881. Oil on canvas. The Rudolf Staechelin Collection (right) Monet, Claude, Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning), 1897, Oil on canvas 25 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1959

After the death of his first wife, Camille, in 1879, Monet returned to the Normandy coast of France, where he had spent his youth. Currently on view in the Gauguin to Picasso exhibition, Calm Weather, Fécamp records the natural beauty of the coast looking toward Yport. Positioned from a high vantage point and perhaps painted entirely outdoors, it shows Fécamp’s imposing cliffs, which hug the coastline and appear to emerge from the sea at low tide. This work was exhibited in the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition in 1882.

Compare this to the Phillips’s Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning) at right above and on view in a nearby gallery in the museum; what similarities or differences do you see? Monet’s Calm Weather, Fécamp was painted in 1881, while Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning) was created in 1897. What changes do you notice in the artist’s style?

Manet’s Head of a Woman

Manet_Head of a Woman

Édouard Manet, Head of a Woman, 1870. Oil on canvas. The Rudolf Staechelin Collection

Upon entering Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from SwitzerlandÉdouard Manet‘s Head of a Woman is one of the first works you’ll encounter. During the 1870s, Manet produced portraits such as this one which captures a glimpsed expression of a woman slowly moving into an amused smile. Its brushwork and color palette reveal the artist’s admiration for the 16th- and 17th-century Dutch and Spanish masters he studied on travels and at the Louvre. Although the sitter is unknown, her pose is characteristic of portraits Manet painted of his wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, his sister-in-law, the Impressionist Berthe Morisot, and his student Eva Gonzalès. Manet’s painting style would later take on a brighter palette and freer brushwork, the result of his association with younger Impressionist artists such as Monet and Renoir, who saw him as a mentor.

Assistant Curator Renée Maurer remarks that a common question about this picture is whether it’s finished or unfinished. What do you think? What are some of the elements of the painting that make you feel that it is complete or incomplete?

Title This! Pun-tificating

Throughout the American Moments exhibition, we’ve been highlighting responses to our Title This! in-gallery interactive. Some participants have been quite punny. Water you thinking about? Let us know on social media with #AmericanMoments!

Credits clockwise from top left: Lauren; Marc Kron from VA; Carly Hurwitz from IL; James Moore from DC; and Kristy Pettie from DC.

Credits clockwise from top left: Lauren; Marc Kron from VA; Carly Hurwitz from IL; James Moore from DC; and Kristy Pettie from DC.