Sunday, February 18, 2024

Winter Moments --- Days 13/42 to 44

Walks: SFMOMA, Inside for Storm, Hood

Distances: 7 miles, day of rest, 4.5 miles

Claude Monet, The Magpie, 1868, oil on canvas

So Ciwt is partial to Monet's art before he became MONET, the Father of Impressionism.  Early Monet as they say.  When he was struggling singlemindedly to - literally - invent ways of painting what he saw before him and loved.  Struggling to develop his art while struggling to survive and support his girlfriend (not yet his wife) and baby son.  His father refused to support his work or family - probably to pressure him to become a businessman - and patrons were exceeding few.

One of these patrons helped arrange a house in Etretat where Monet could shelter his family and paint in relative comfort.  From the year he moved in Northern France was blanketed by snow in an ongoing series of winter storms.  The invention of the collapsible metal paint tube and portable easel had brought opportunities to move out of the studio into plain air, and Monet had been one of the first to embrace this freedom.  So in those impossibly severe winters, Monet invented methods to (barely) stay alive outdoors - and to truly capture - for the first time - snow.

Not just any flat, cold white-with-grey shadows snow but violet, blue, pink, yellow snow often applied with short choppy brush strokes.  Snow that captured the vibrating quality of light.  And winter scenes that capture some deep truths of that season: the solitude, the quiet delicacy, the fleeing, changeable moments. The sense of snow.

And in one of those early years, he produced a simple, quiet painting that almost brings tears to Ciwt's every time she sees it.  The Magpie.  Ciwt is not alone; The Magpie is one of the most popular paintings in the Musee d'Orsay's collection.

PS - It was rejected by the Paris Salon of 1869.  Jurors dismissed it for reasons such as 'too common, too coarse,' too experimental with colors and too radically different from the accepted academic style. No wonder a few years later, that young group of Impressionists finally rebelled!

Claude Monet, A Cart on the Snowy Road to Honfleur, 1865 or 1867, 

The painting above was Monet's first snowscape during those winters.  And below was his largest.

Claude Monet, Snow at Argenteuil, 1865, oil on canvas

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