Bright and warm, Claude Monet’s En Paysage dans I’île Saint-Martin (on view in Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Collection) depicts a nearly perfect day. Monet painted this scene in Vétheuil, a small village forty miles west of Paris, where he lived with his wife and two children, as well as the family of his patron, Ernest Hoschedé. In settling in Vétheuil, Monet hoped to find not only creative inspiration, but also imagery that could be translated into salable pictures that would replenish his dwindling financial resources. Filling the canvas with loosely applied dashes of brightly hued paint, Monet captured light and atmosphere—a goal shared by his fellow French Impressionists. One of the original members of that group of avant-garde painters, Monet painted what he sensed, not just what he saw.
I’ve always been a day dreamer, often getting lost in my thoughts as I fail to finish my homework. In my mind appears landscape after landscape, ranging from my home country, France, to vistas from remote places around the globe. Although my window allows me to see outside, I long to see a different view than the office building across the street. For this reason, if I could choose one painting from the Phillips to hang in my bedroom, it would be Claude Monet’s Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning) (1897). The cliff side in this work can be seen as an allegory for my longing to travel: showing me the horizon of possible destinations from my bed or desk. On rainy or foggy days, its palette brightens my room; the soft yet bright colors of the painting reflect around my walls on sunny days. Val-Saint-Nicolas serves as a window to a parallel universe where I can let my mind wander as the cliff and rocks come to life, adorned with multicolored flowers. The gentle brushstrokes produce a soporiferous effect on me and sleep comes easily.
Of all the paintings in the Phillips, the only one I would want hanging in my bedroom is this one, which produces the utmost calm in me, soothes me, and allows me to be in connection with my senses.
Olivia Bensimon, Marketing & Communications Intern
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.
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?