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Claude Monet Twilight, Venice
Claude Monet's Twilight, Venice, painted en plein air, or outdoors and from life, in 1908 and not finished until 1912, is a remarkable view of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in the Italian city of Venice. His composition highlights the ghostly visage of the cathedral and bell-tower as they loom out of the mist in a manner similar to that of his London series, captured a few years previously. Initially hesitant of accompanying his wife to the area around Venice in fear of following in the recurring trend for artists, painters, and writers to discover themselves in the majestic setting, Monet quickly warmed to the city and kept a rigorous daily painting schedule. Working from his hotel balcony, a nearby palazzo, or occasionally a gondola (recalling his youth painting side-by-side with Renoir in fishing boats on the River Seine near Argenteuil), Monet discovered a quality of light utterly unique from that he had already known and studied.
His hesitation to conform to the ubiquitous tendency of painting Venice was ill-founded, as in the shimmering effect of sunset upon water, Monet discovered a completely unique viewpoint for which to capture the spirit of the city. Upon arriving, the artist marvelled that the area was simply too beautiful to be painted. Fortunately for contemporary viewers and art-lovers today, Monet revised his statement and began to paint on October 12 1908. The peculiar magic of the autumn sunsets caused Monet and his wife to extend their stay from a one week jaunt to a two month trip. From the moment Monet began working, his days were organized like clockwork. A schedule of four two-hour sessions spread between 8am and 6pm served to capture a number of different views, including the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the Ducal Palace, and some facades of palaces on the Grand Canal. Yet, in his old age and ever-more frail condition, Monet painted only the very small part of Venice which centres on the area around the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge in San Giorgio Maggiore to San Marco. In spite of this, the artist began a grand total of 37 paintings during his stay, many of which were completed in his Giverny workshop between 1911 and 1912.
Twilight, Venice is a remarkable achievement from an artist whose worsening cataracts caused him to view life almost eternally through a fog. Adapting his style accordingly, Monet managed to forge one of the most enduring and unique views of a city that has been depicted incessantly over a period of seven centuries.
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