The River Scene Contact Information Claude Monet

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The boating sketches

Sketchbook 6, page 51

In the other sketch, (Deux femmes en barque sur l’Epte, W.D367), Suzanne is sitting in the stern of the boat. The other woman is sitting ’at the oars’ – though there are no oars to be seen. The boat is lying towards the bank as in the first, now overpainted, state of the River Scene.

Follow the evolution of the Boating Theme!
HERE for a survey!

Perhaps the first version of the River Scene was intended as a more open view with the boat lying like in this sketch? More about this further on.

When we are looking at this sketch we can see that Suzanne is sitting in the same way in the boat just as the other girl - in the middle of the boat. Now look at our River-Scene. Take a close look and you will see that here she is sitting in the LEFT hand corner of the stern! In this way you can only sit if there is another person sitting at the other, opposite, side of the boat. Obviously there was another girl present that Monet planned to paint. We know that it was late in the afternoon and probably it was getting too late and too dark to continue the work. We also know that in the River Scene of the state of today we have two
persons in the boat - though the one behind the oars is not visible!

Click HERE for important evidence

Still another small, but nevertheless extremely fascinating detail, is to be found in one of the sketches. We will see that it certainly is not there by coincidence. Again we can follow the artist's way from vision and idea drawn in the sketch and via the River Scene to the finished work!

Please click HERE for another important comparison

Apparently the ideas around the boating theme matured and Monet decided to continue his work on the canvas, but now he starts up the second sitting in broad sunlight.

This is when he scrapes off the area to the right of the boat. More than half the boat of the first version was scraped off.

Click HERE for a close-up of scraped area.

When looking close it really seems as if the whole bank belongs to the second state, since the outline drawing comes on top of underlying paint!

Click HERE for a close-up of this detail.

The fringe of foliage to the left was probably much more light and open. The sun-mingled willow-leaves must belong to the later, second state.

He catches the light of the sunny day. He probably now also adds the river bank we are standing on. He indicates the filtered light with the sun-splashes on the river bank. He turns the boat along the beach and discovers the sunshine in the water down under the boat. He succeeds in catching it in the way we have it today, with the shadow falling against us from the boat, created by overpainting part of the bank. Have a close look and you will see that he catches not only the sunshine under the boat - in the shadow from the boat – he even catches the sky and the sun reflected in the water BELOW the shadow, by adding a white and some light-blue daubs at the bottom left edge! This is certainly another good example of Claude Monet´s evolution of the motif and the genius creating light, or perhaps rather, impression of light.

Click HERE for a reflection close-up!

We do not know anything about in which order the Boating – sketches/paintings were created – we can only guess. We know however that Monet had great problems creating them, trying to paint ’Figures treated like Landscapes’. We have seen the drawing with the girl in the stem and the stern-part ’cut off’. It seems as Monet now recalls this idea with the boat cut in this ’japanese way’. We have also seen how he turned the boat in the other drawing. There are also some other drawings with the boat in different positions.

The natural next step in the evolution is our River Scene of the second state – here we can see how Monet ’invents’ the cut boat – we know that he had a japanese wood-cut with three Fishing-girls in a boat, (Click HERE to see it.). The River Scene now seems to be his first attempt creating this idea in oil for his own oeuvre.

Click HERE for a boat comparison

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