Claude Monet Field of Poppies, Argenteuil
Field of Poppies, Argenteuil, painted in 1873 by Claude Monet, is without doubt one of the most recognizable and enduring images in the history of painting. Certainly one of the most popular Impressionist artworks, it is one of around 240 paintings that Monet produced during the seven years of his stay in Argenteuil. The river, the village and the surrounding countryside of this idyllic rural suburb of Paris bought Monet pleasure and inspiration. Married with a young child, and finally relieved of his financial worries by the sale of a number of paintings, Monet experienced two years of productivity and domestic bliss at Argenteuil. An atmosphere of abundance and delight emerges from the canvas, which Monet first exhibited at the Impressionist exhibition of 1874, purchased by the astute Opera singer Jean-Baptiste Faure.
It was Monet's aim to paint moments of relaxation and recreation in studied opposition to the rapid industrialization of the city of Paris and the seedy, decadent pleasures associated with it. In a shimmering display of movement and light, the viewers gaze is drawn to the human figures, whose figurative elements are described in paint no more than the sturdy tree on the left. Yet Monet articulates their presence with such deft touches and intricate brushwork that their luminescent presence grabs the viewer's attention. The reproduction of the effects of light on the natural world were one of the foremost preoccupations of the Impressionists. Yet this too was made possible by the industrialization they so sought to escape. The tin tube, invented in 1850, allowed the transportation of intense colours, and allowed artists to paint outdoors.
Monet's Field of Poppies, Argenteuil is indeed a far cry from the billowing trains and factories, the black mists of the suburbs, and the din of the working districts. The palette is clear and bright: the canvas is divided between the sky – a stunning bright blue -and rolling terrain where hundreds of poppies, bright patches of vermilion, burst against the light green background of grass. The scene is peaceful, and tells a tale of a humble yet bourgeois family. The grand achievement of Monet's Field of Poppies, Argenteuil is the articulation of sense rather than vision. We do not witness the scene, Monet allows the us to immerse ourselves in it. The artist's vision of the villages surrounding the heaving city have endured as the iconic and archetypal image of respite and relaxation.
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Home › Art Subjects › Floral: Landscape › Field of Poppies, Argenteuil
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