The River Scene Contact Information Claude Monet

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X-Ray photo

X-ray photo taken of the River Scene painting

In the X-ray photo we can see the painting in black and white. The white is the effect of the X-rays reflected by the lead in the colour Lead White. All Lead White colour, used in the painting, is reflected in the same way. What we can see is the present state, as well as the underlying first state – now painted over.

X-ray Scenario
See how the picture has been changed!

What can we find out from this X-ray? In fact something really sensational! The whole scene has been radically changed. This is what has happened: In the first session it was late afternoon, and the sun was standing low! This is easy to see in the X-ray photo.
Look at the
arches of the bridge to the right. The sunrays were, in the first state, shining through them, being reflected on the surface of the water! It is obvious, that the whole atmosphere has been changed! From late afternoon in this first state, to noon and the bright sunshine that we see today!

Close up of the arche in X-ray.

Click for larger image.

When we have learnt about this change of the scenary, we do get a reasonable explanation to something that for a long time seemed so puzzling! This is the rose colour area to the left of the landing-stage – beneath the water-surface of today and consequently being part of the first, overpainted version.

Click HERE for a look at the underlying rose color.

Please click HERE for sunset detail!

Click HERE for rose 'reminiscenses'.

Looking at the arches of the bridge in the second state we have today, we simply have to make a comparison with two other paintings.

Click HERE for shadow comparison.

When we separately study the Bridge paintings by Monet, we can only confirm this fascination of his, for arches and sunlight, coming through them and being reflected on the water surface! (e.g.: Waterloo Bridge 1899-1900, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, W.1555).

The Waterloo Bridge

Sunlight translated

Unfortunately you have no chance to see and feel what in France is called: the ‘enveloppe’ of our paintings, no photo can, in no way, give justice to the light in them. If you read the following you will, however, understand what our three paintings look like, when you have them before your eyes: “Mirbeau who knew Monet well, in 1889 linked mystery with the enveloppe: The air visibly bathes every object, endows it with mystery, envelops it with all the colours’; in 1891, after further consultation with Monet he enlarged on the qualities of his latest work. He described Monet, "who knows how to touch the intangible, express the inexpressible, who enchants our dream with the whole dream, mysteriously enclosed within nature, with the whole dream mysteriously scattered in the divine light" ending by discussing one of his latest figure paintings: ‘Suzanne with Sunflowers’. (House p.223).

‘The air visibly bathes every object’, yes that’s it: Suzanne is really ‘bathing’ in the air, in the sunshine, out there in the boat.  “It is about a moment in time, a few drowsy hours of sunlight that have been arrested and preserved on canvas. As if it were a page torn from a diary, Monet offers us a fragment of his own life and it is this that makes the picture so appealing. Instead of contriving a fiction, Monet allows the picture to become autobiographical, holding it up as a window to his life. The subject of his painting has become as portable as the materials that create it.” About ‘La Grenouillère’, 1869: "The great mackerel skin of water dominates the painting; slabs of white and blue paint laid down beside black, interrupted by notes of warm ochre, miraculously become rippling water in our minds. The complex image of light sparkling and winking off the river has been converted into a vibrant patchwork of broken colour.” (Skeggs: ‘River of Light’, pp.54, 60).

Click HERE for mackerel skin water comparison.

Looking at the ‘River Scene’, it is like sitting in a dark room, with an open window looking out over the River. The warm sunlight is streaming into the room.

- this miraculous alchemy of colour in which sunlight is translated into touches of paint”, (Skeggs p.60)

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