The River Scene Contact Information Claude Monet

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The boating theme evolution

We have found out how Monet has turned the boat around in the River-Scene and we are now seeing the boat passing by on the river, gliding out of sight…. Here it is of particular interest to study this stage of the evolution link. We again remember the first sketch with the cut boat and the girl ’indicated’ and with her hand on the right oar. Today she is not indicated any longer – we proceed another step forward – we can only see the oar and we have to imagine her being there – at the oars, out of our sight. In short: Impressionism. And even shorter: Monet…

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It certainly is exciting to follow Monet in his everlasting struggle exploring new territory. We have studied the different stages of development in the sketches and especially in the River Scene. We can almost look upon the process as a long pregnancy.

Two paintings were ’born’ closely related to these sketches and the River-Scene.

It is hard to say which of these two came first. In ’The Blue Barque’ the boat is lying close to the bank, like we have seen in the x-ray and the infra-red photo, revealing the first state of the River-Scene.

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The girls are two of Suzanne's sisters. Marthe Hoschedé is sitting in the stern, the other is Blanche Hoschedé-Monet. We can see some sun-splashes and it is evident that the boat is lying in the shadow from the trees above and behind us, filtering the early morning light. See also the reflected sun-glitter on the side of the boat. Small, but important details, creating the Monet impression of light.

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Now it is Suzanne that is sitting in the stern. Blanche is still sitting turned away from us but now with her hands on the gun-wale in the typical Monet-way with the ’looking-through’ 3D-effect. Claude Monet also paints Suzanne in the same ’open’ way, so that we can catch a glimpse of her hair under her right arm. Even the left arm is painted so we can see a glimpse of the water behind. Look at the River Scene and you will find the same manner of treating the model. We get a glimpse of the water under both arms. Nothing done at random here.

The girls are now reflected in the water. The light is still filtered through the foliage but more light is giving sharper contrasting effects. The shadow from the boat in this painting as well as in ’The Blue Barque’ is very similar to the shadow in the River Scene as it looks today, as well as in the first state. In the sketches we have seen Monet  mirroring the girls in the water. In ”Young Women in Boat” we can see this idea being accomplished. The girls are reflected in the water.

Click HERE for a comparison with some other paintings with girls sitting in a similar way.

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striking resemblances of brushwork and important evidence!

Red arrows showing underlying paint layer of sunset (soirée) rose light of the first version. White arrow showing flattened paint with impression from another canvas.
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Click HEREfor shadow from the boat comparison.


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for a repeated comparison.

It is interesting to see that in both of these paintings the boat is cut by the right hand margin. We know that Monet is reading his paintings from left to right. Apparently we have the boats turned in this way – to the right. The thwart is an effective resistance for our eyes to slip out of the picture.

Monet finally choses not to paint any oars in these two pictures. Mainly probably because of understandable difficulties with the composition, and certainly also because of problems to get it look natural with the oars vanishing down into the water. When we look at other paintings, there are a lot of boats with people rowing, mainly in the earlier production, though mostly as small staffage. Most of them have the oars lifted over the water. So also the two Canot paintings from around 1890. These two are the very last of the Boating Girls series.

Click HERE to see "La Barque rose", (Collection M.Riklis, USA) and "The Empty Boat"

Here Monet is looking down into the water, painting the moving see-weed, like he had done in ’The Empty Boat’.

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