Monet's Places

click on the city of interest to aceess information and a picture by Monet

 

Argenteuil
Argenteuil, linked to Paris by train in 1841, was a popular suburban retreat. Monet lived here between 1871 and 1878 and frequently painted his young family, his garden and landscapes seen from his studio boat. Fellow artists like Manet, Renoir and Sisley also painted here in the 1870s. With its railway line and factories, residences and river walks, Argenteuil was in many ways typical of the suburban towns on the outskirts of Paris. Yet the contribution it made to the evolution of modern French painting sets it apart from neighboring villages.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Argenteuil.

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Bordighera
Bordighera is a small town on the Mediterranean coast of Italy, just over the border from France. Monet and Renoir traveled there in 1883 to paint the lush foliage and brilliant light, and Monet returned alone in 1884. In letters to Alice Hoschedé, Monet expressed his delight at the natural colors of the sea and sky, shades of blue he feared he could not approximate. He confessed that the palm trees caused him problems, but his stay was productive, and the setting heated the color of his palette.

Monet stayed about 10 weeks in Bordighera and painted about 35 works plus painted another 11 works on the French Riviera on the way home before returning in April 1884.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Bordighera.

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Dieppe and Pourville
Dieppe was the first town to be developed as a resort when it was favored by the English as an alternative to Brighton. But since it is windy it began to fall out of favor by about 1830. Nevertheless, Pissaro, Renoir and Monet all painted here, though Monet preferred the rugged cliffs and quieter atmosphere at nearby Pourville, where he took a house, and Varangéville sur Mer.

Not far from Rouen, Dieppe has much to boast about. It attracted J. M. W. Turner, Eugene Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Aubrey Beardsley, James McNeill Whistler, Max Beerbohm, Felix Vallotton, William and Ben Nicholson, Walter Richard Sickert, Matthew Smith and Georges Braque has to have been doing something right.

It is also a tribute to the discreet fascination of Dieppe that among the writers who enjoyed it are Chateaubriand, Flaubert, Turgenev, Dumas fils, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf. In 1824, the English essayist William Hazlitt went to Dieppe as a pioneer of travel journalism.

Dieppe remains a highly attractive town, and is worth a visit today for its excellent seafood restaurants, and for the Château Museum on a headland above the beach.

Click here to veiw Monet paintings of Deippe.

Click here to veiw Monet' paintings of Pourville.

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Étretat
Étretat was a small, busy fishing port. During the 1880s, Monet rediscovered the Normandy coast and made repeated visits there to draw by the sea. He was attracted to its dramatic cliffs and rock arches. He lived there in 1868 with Camille Doncieux (whom he married in 1870) and their son Jean. Monet returned to Étretat in 1883, 1885 and 1886. Étretat had already been painted by both Delacroix and Courbet; Monet in fact owned a Delacroix watercolor of the area. The Courbet retrospective at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1882 featured a group of Étretat seascapes. Monet visited Étretat in 1883 with plans to create his own Normandy seascapes: "I reckon on doing a big canvas on the cliff of Étretat, although it’s terribly audacious of me to do that after Courbet who did it so well, but I’ll try to do it differently." The region had become a fashionable holiday destination for Parisians, which may have encouraged Monet to create paintings for a growing market.

The natural drama of the landscape provided an excellent setting - for both painters and property speculators. The town rises steeply up behind the beach so that the grand villas - taken by Maupassant, Offenbach and Zola, among others - have spectacular views over the bay and the rock arches, which form a natural frame at either end. In summer the setting sun adds to the drama. The beach, though pebbly, also added a certain frisson to a stay here in the late 19th century.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Étretat.

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Fécamp
Fécamp is located along a stretch of Normandy called the Alabaster Coast. It is famous for its Imposing 110-metre-high chalk cliffs, similar to the white cliffs of Dover in England. Once a thriving fishing port, it is now a big industrial port, but the seafront is still attractive and the beach, which gives way to a long line of cliffs curving into the distance was the scene of several paintings by Monet.

Fecamp also has an extraordinarily beautiful 11th-century abbey church whose architecture proved an inspiration in the designs of English cathedrals. Bishop Losinga, who commissioned Norwich cathedral, had been prior at Fécamp.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Fécamp.

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Fresselines
In February 1889, the writer and critic Gustave Geffroy took Monet to stay with the poet Maurice Rollinat at Fresselines in the valley of the Creuse in the Massif Central. In March 1889, Monet returned and spent almost three months staying in the local inn. He worked all day out of doors, spending the evenings with Rollinat, with whom he became the best of friends.

Fresselines is a small town near the meeting point of the Grande Creuse and Petite Creuse rivers, a sparsely populated region that had long attracted artists, authors and poets. Monet painted this dramatic landscape in the early spring of 1889 undertaking one of his most arduous painting campaigns. The area is rugged and rocky, with deep valleys and steep hillsides; the climate is harsh, windy, rainy, and cold. Monet completed twenty-four canvases at Fresselines, each one a struggle against the elements and against his own growing sense of physical vulnerability. The Creuse campaign was a turning point for Monet. Realizing that he had to find a place to pursue his aims more efficiently, the artist turned his attention homeward, to the environment of Giverny.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Creuse.

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Giverny (click here for more information about and his graden at Giverny)
Giverny is a small village on the banks of the Seine River. Monet began renting a house the in 1883 and bought it in 1890, living with his second wife Alice Hoschedé (whom he married in 1892) and their combined eight children. The local scenery, such as wheatstacks in the neighbors fields, inspired Monet's famous series paintings. Monet designed and planted an extensive garden area which became the primary subject of his painting by the late 1890s.

Monet's garden was probably one key to his success, a starting point for his fame. We know know that he was an absolutely professional gardener in his time and well admired for his skills. He wrote written daily instructions to his gardening staff, precise designs and layouts for plantings, invoices for his floral purchases and his collection of botany books. Monet often said, "Besides gardening and painting, I don’t know a thing".

Click here to view Monet paintings of Giverny.

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Honfleur
Monet painted Rue de la Bavolle, Honfleur (right) in 1864. This coastal town was a popular destination for marine painters. Monet traveled there with French artist Frederic Bazille in May 1864, and they set up their easels together along the coast, on the sea cliffs, and in the adjacent countryside. Monet remained in Honfleur after Bazille returned to Paris. In the fall, Monet painted two versions of the volatile play of light and shadow on the village street in the lowering autumnal sun.

Honfleur (known as France's "northern Riviera" ) is famous for the breeding and racing of thoroughbred horses, and the 8,000 residents include French celebrities who have second homes here.Honfleur is not a resort but a fortified medieval port, and one of the prettiest and most appealing towns in Normandy. The set piece is the Vieux Basin, the old harbour that used to be enclosed within the defensive walls. Now it is a picturesque place to moor a yacht. Honfleur also has a highly unusual church, built in the 15th century after the English occupiers were kicked out. The local craftsmen were shipwrights and had no stone, so they built the roof of timber in the shape of two upturned ships' hulls. From an artistic point of view Honfleur is important because it was the home town of Eugène Boudin and the local museum has a collection of his works, as well as paintings by Courbet, Monet, Dufy and Mozin.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Honfleur.

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Le Havre
Monet grew up in this major port city of France in the Normandy where his father prospered as a grocer and ship chandler. This event has more than biographical significance, for it was Monet's childhood, spent along the beaches, and the intimate knowledge he gained of the sea and the rapidly shifting Norman weather, that would one day give rise to his fresh vision of nature. The sea thus became the constant background of his whole childhood, and he spent more time roaming the beaches than in the schoolroom. He wrote of himself: He met landscape artist Boudin and the Dutch painter Jongkind here an was inspired by them to paint landscapes out-of-doors, giving up his interest in caricature.

Le Havre was almost completely razed by Allied bombardment during the Normandy landings and it can be hard to recapture the sense of the old port evoked by the Impressionists. Along the St Andresse beach, there are still plenty of recognisable views - the headland, in particular, was painted several times by Monet, whose aunt lived in a villa on the seafront, and later by Dufy.

Standing by the plaque indicating where Monet sat to paint the canvas that gave the movement its name - Impression, Sun Rising - one looks over a car park towards a container port with an oil refinery in the background. Turning 180 degrees one facesFrance's best museum of Impressionist paintings after the Musée d'Orsay. All the big names of the movement are well-represented, especially Boudin and Pissarro, and there is also a strong collection of paintings by Dufy, who was born in Le Havre.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Le Havre.

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London
Monet first visited London when he met his wife Camille fled France in 1870-1871 during the France-Prussian War. He returned many years later (1899, 1900 and 1901) to paint bridges and House of Parliament seen through the fog of the Thames River.

Click here to view Monet paintings of London.

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Paris
Monet was born in Paris, the capital of France, on Nov., 1840. After his childhood in Le Havre, he returned to Paris in 1859 to study painting. He primarily lived in the city, after a brief stint in the military in Algeria, and he alternated between the city and the suburbs until the early 1880s. During this time, he kept a studio in Paris for periodic work on cityscapes such as the Saint-Lazare Station and also to store paintings for exhibitions. In Paris, Monet met other important artists of his time, including Renoir, Bazille, Sisley, Pissaro and Courbet. In 1865, 1866 and 1880 his work was officially recognized when exhibited at the Paris Salon. Monet was one of the founders of the group of independent artists called the Impressionists, who exhibited together in Paris eight times between 1874 and 1886. Although permanently settled outside the city after 1883, paris always remained essential to Monet for the sales of his work.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Paris.

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Rouen

Rouen, a walled city until the 18th century, was named the "the city of 100 spires," by author Victor Hugo. It's perched elegantly along the Seine, France's longest river. Rouen's (pronounced Roo-aw) narrow, winding cobblestone streets are delightfully walkable. In this city, Normandy's signature medieval half-timbered houses stand in the shadow of its soaring and bewitching centrepiece -- Notre Dame Cathedra, with its Tour de Beurre (heavily damaged in the war, but now fully restored). The 9-year-old heroine Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in the village marketplace for heresy in 1431. Twenty-four years after her death, Joan was pardoned -- and then canonized in the early 1900s.

The cathedral was the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet, some of which are exhibited in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Monet created several groups of paintings exploring the color, light, and form of a single subject at various times of day, but his Rouen Cathedral series was his most intense effort on a single site. He painted there in late winter in both 1892 and 1893, then reworked his thirty canvases from memory in the studio through 1894. He began this example in 1893, working in an improvised studio in the front room of a dressmaker's shop across from the cathedral.

After creating a coherent ensemble, Monet selected twenty paintings that he considered "complete" and "perfect," including this one, for an exhibition at his Paris dealer's gallery in May 1895. Pissarro and Cézanne visited and praised the series, and patrons quickly purchased eight paintings from the group.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Rouen.

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Sandvika
Monet visited his stepson Jacques Hoschedé in Norway in the winter of 1895. Wrapped in bearskins, Monet and Jacques explored the mountains by rail, skis and horse-drawn sleigh.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Norway.

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Sainte-Adresse
Monet's aunt Marie-Jeanne Lecadre owned a summer house in this fishing village. In his early career, Monet frequently painted the beach and the view from her house. He painted perhaps one of the key works of Impressionism, Garden at Sainte-Adresse, when he was 26. This was a time when he and his friends in Paris were trying to find new ways to see and depict modern life.

Sainte-Adresse is a small town located between the big port city of Le Havre and the edge of the pays de Caux. As it was the case for several other (then) small cities of the Norman coast (Étretat, Trouville, Houlgate, Cabourg), Sainte-Adresse became one of the preferred vacation places of the intelligentsia. The rich merchants and ship owners from Le Havre also built or bought vacation houses in Sainte-Adresse.

A promenade was built as the continuation of the promenade of Le Havre until Land's End (le Bout du Monde). Sainte-Adresse was renowned for the regattas organized by the Sociéte des Régates du Havre, which still owns a big club-house on the promenade. The promenade and its landing stage (estacade) were immortalized by the painters Claude Monet, Raoul Dufy and Albert Marquet.

The garden in the painting belonged to Monet’s aunt, whose seaside villa was near the great port of Le Havre. One can imagine that the seated figures - probably Monet’s father and aunt - are watching the steam ships bringing goods to their home town. Monet is painting not only modern commerce, but the familiar pleasures of modern middle-class life.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Sainte-Adresse.

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Trouville
Trouville is about as near as you get to an old-fashioned British seaside resort on this stretch of the coast by the long promenade. But it is still a smart address. The grand hotels have been converted to posh apartments, including the Hôtel des Roches Noires Trouville (right), brilliantly depicted by Monet in 1870 with its flags stretched taut by the sea breeze.

Monet stayed in a more modest establishment and left for England in a panic without paying his bill when the Franco-Prussian war broke out. Many of Boudin's scenes of the beautiful people gathering on the sands were painted here, while Courbet typically ignored high society and focused on the empty beach or the fishing boats.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Trouville.

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Venice
Monet traveled with his second wife Alice to Venice, italy, in the Autumn of 1908. He completed about 36 views of Venice's legendary canals, piazzas and palaces. "One cannot come to Venice," Monet said, "without wanting to return." He painted feverishly every day from early morning until late afternoon. In his views of such celebrated subjects as the Grand Canal, he continued to explore colored reflections on water, emphasizing Venice's magical, moisture-laden atmosphere in which buildings lose their detail. Most of these paintings were only begun when Monet left Venice. He finished them three years later in his studio at Giverny and exhibited them in Paris to great acclaim.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Venice.

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Vétheuil
Vétheuil is a small town of 600 inhabitants on the Seine 40 miles downriver from Paris. Its relative isolation - the nearest railway station was eight miles distant - gave Monet an opportunity to advance his art away from the increasing congestion of Argenteuil. His years in Vétheuil were to prove difficult but productive. During this period, which is considered to have been a turning point in the artist’s life, Monet suffered the death of his wife, financial difficulties, and unfavorable critical reception. 

The bleakness of Monet’s life seemed to be reflected in one of the harshest winters on record. The thermometer fell so low that the Seine froze over.

Once the thaw set in, huge blocks of ice began to force their way down the river, crashing into each other with such force that the family was woken from its sleep. Monet worked throughout the winter to capture this beautiful and eerie spectacle in a group of about a dozen stark and semi-abstract canvases such as The Break-up of Ice, some of which appear to prefigure his later waterlily paintings.

Click here to view Monet paintings of Vétheuil.

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The Normandy Coast

Thanks to the obsession of French Impressionists and their contemporaries with the seascapes of the Normandy coast, the rock arch at Étretat must be the single most frequently painted geological feature in the world. Monet, returned again and again to attempt to capture the effects of light and weather on the sea-battered cliffs, while Courbet and Eugène-Louis Boudin also painted from this beach. And Pissarro, Manet, Renoir and many others worked nearby.

It was arguably Boudin, a local boy from Honfleur, who was the greatest early influence on Monet. In the late 1850s he persuaded the young painter, whose family had a house in nearby Le Havre, to set up his easel out of doors and paint his landscapes directly on to the canvas. The radically "impressionistic" images of sky, cliffs, sea and beach which, for the next 30 years, he conjured out of rapid brushwork and vibrant colours have become some of the most memorable and popular images in Western art.

Grand hotels were opening to accommodate tourists and rail services from Paris meant that the bourgeoisie could reach the coast in a couple of hours, and count themselves among the fashionable set. The artists' seductive scenes of carefree life on the beaches only made the attraction of the "summer boulevard of Paris" even greater. In fact, the painters had been in the vanguard when it came to popularising the coast. As early as the 1820s Corot and Charles Mozin had already begun to draw attention to the appeal the Normandy beaches by exhibiting their works in Paris.

Visiting this part of Normandy today, however, involves more than just paying homage to a bygone French intellectual tradition. While their British counterparts have gone into decline, most of the 19th-century resorts around the mouth of the Seine have continued to flourish. Only Le Havre, which took such a battering during the Second World War, has lost its essential charm. The coastline as a whole remains as alluring as the day Monet first set up his easel.

the above is drawn from:
Pleasures of the Palette