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Maker(s):Monet, Claude
Culture:French (1840 - 1926)
Title:The Seine at Bougival
Date Made:1869
Materials:oil on canvas
Place Made:France; Bougival
Measurements:stretcher: 23 5/8 x 28 7/8 in.; 60.0075 x 73.3425 cm
Narrative Inscription:  undated, signed in reddish orange paint at lower right: Claude Monet
Accession Number:  SC 1946.4
Credit Line:Purchased
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

water; landscape; vegetation

Label Text:
This early Impressionist painting by Monet, completed at age 28, depicts an evening sky shortly after sunset at the village of Bougival, located on the Seine west of Paris. Monet painted in and around Bougival in the latter half of 1869, joined on occasion by both Renoir and Pissarro, who lived nearby. At that time, Bougival was a fashionable suburban retreat, still unspoiled by growing tourism. At the center of this painting, silhouetted against the sky, is the 17th-century aqueduct commissioned by Louis XIV to pump water for his royal fountains at Marly and Versailles. Monet emphasized the historic landmark and downplayed signs of modernity, including the modern bridge across the Seine that he only faintly indicated. Unlike Monet's later works, in which particular forms dissolve into overall effects of light and atmosphere, in this early work broad, fluid brushstrokes define individual elements of the scene: two figures in a rowboat at lower left, the houses of Bougival behind them, and the long blades of grass on the Island of Croissy in the foreground, the site from which Monet painted.

Other label: This landscape of the resort town of Bougival outside Paris (seen from the Croissy Island, with a Roman aqueduct silhouetted on the horizon) marks an important moment of transformation in French nineteenth-century painting. Its relatively dark color palette, traditional compositional devices (the side-framing trees, for example), and romantic undertones still reflect the influence of the Barbizon landscape tradition. But the painting also looks forward to Impressionism, especially in the enlivened colors of the sunset sky and activated brushwork.

In 1869, when this canvas was painted, the founders of Impressionism—Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Monet—had come together for the first time to paint and exchange ideas. This year is considered the birthdate of Impressionism, a movement that later took its name from a derisive review of an 1874 exhibition that included a Monet painting entitled Impression: Sunrise.

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