Claude Monet Haystack at Giverny
Claude Monet's 1886 painting Haystack at Giverny is an ethereal early edition of what would become one the artist's trademark series: a humble haystack that registered in its cylindrical form the changing effects of light. Monet painted the haystacks that stood in a field near his home in Giverny over thirty times between summer 1890 and winter 1891, yet this particular canvas dates from a period long before he dedicated himself to reproducing the scene repeatedly in paint. Upon the death of his beloved wife Camille a few months after the birth of their second son, Michel, Monet was consoled and encouraged to continue working by the art collectors Ernest and Alice Hoschedé. Shortly after, in 1883, during a walk, Monet discovered his dream house in Giverny, a village near Vernon, halfway between Paris and Rouen. Alice Hoschedé soon became his new companion and together they tended their luscious garden, allowing the artist to use his own home as both a studio and location for his ongoing creative output. Setting out to work in the countryside with his easel under his arm and his box of paints in hand, Monet frequently painted the same subject, capturing the varying effects of light on the material appearance as the sun changed from morning to afternoon, and finally evening. Always fascinated by the tactile glaze of water, Monet later decided to create a pond in his garden, punctuated with his love of Japonism with the inclusion of a Japanese styled bridge.
Travelling to the surrounding countryside near the property at Giverny, Monet documented the ubiquitous haystacks that dotted the countryside, painting the clumps of hay from late summer to the following winter. The haystacks were a sign of the bounty of the harvest, composed with local flair into large huts with a flat base four to five meters wide, upon a ground prepared by a bed of straw that isolated the first bed sheaves. As the wheel rises so does the diameter of the construction enlarge to a height of three or four meters, thereafter, it shrinks to the diameter of the layers to form a cone. Monet noticed that these complex constructions appeared differently to him as the sun changed its position in the sky. As such, the artist's 1886 painting served as the springboard for the dramatic experiments that followed. Contemplating Haystack at Giverny Monet decided that without doubt one version was not enough, and later reflected the position of the sun through the variable elongation of shadows on the ground, allowing each of his majestic haystacks to be read like a sun-dial, documenting the artist's exact time and place at the moment of conception.
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