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Claude Monet The Garden at Argenteuil (The Dahlias)
Painted in 1873, Claude Monet's The Garden at Argenteuil (The Dahlias) is a incandescent vision of an overabundance of natural foliage in the artist's garden. During the summers between 1872 and 1874 Monet was joined by his friend and fellow painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and together they would paint side by side the canvases that would dominate the independent first Impressionist exhibition of 1874. Visiting Monet's house in Argenteuil, Renoir and Monet's creative impulses fed each-other’s verve to discover new ways of painting the effects of light. Indeed the pair often used to include each-other in their canvases as they were caught in the process of capturing from life a fresh scene. In one of Renoir's paintings from the summer of 1873 one can make out the figure of Monet painting what would become The Garden at Argenteuil (The Dahlias).
In his own idiosyncratic manner, Monet perfected the art of painting the movement of light. Taking in the view before him, the artist would add a brush-stroke to decisively capture a petal or a stem and then wait until the light upon the object had changed before adding another. As such, Monet painted the changing impression of sunlight as time lumbered on over the day. As such his Dahlias appear almost to lose their colour as the low light descents, while the high areas remain lit. The remarkable tactility of this canvas is constructed through the rapid succession of broad and confident brush-strokes that characterise the style of both Monet and Renoir in this immensely productive period. In this quiet but wild garden each beat of the natural rhythm of life is recorded with a fresh manner of observation and imaginative way of rendering reality.
The Garden at Argenteuil (The Dahlias) is an immensely personal take on a strangely impersonal scene. Although taking to his subjects with the inquisitive and detached eye of a scientific observer, Monet occasionally allowed elements of his personal life to creep in. In the background of the canvas one can make out the artist's beloved first wife Camille, whose presence resonates through his time at Argenteuil. Her tragic early death dealt a tremendous blow to Monet, whose time at his house in Giverny after her demise signalled a new chapter in his life. Suffused with nostalgia and a bittersweet and sublime charm, The Garden at Argenteuil (The Dahlias) is a stunning fragment of the artist at this crucial time in his development.
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