Stephen Jarad Reed
Art History I
Museum Paper 1
There is something about “Argenteuil” that draws my attention from the other exhibits at the Philbrook Art Museum. Perhaps it is that the name Monet seems vaguely familiar or maybe that I have a personal love of water. Whatever the reason, his oiled canvas depicting boats on a river is my choice for review.
Monet includes a great amount of detail in the reflections on the river and the way that they interact with the large amount of moss that appears to be in the water. From the direction of the shadows and the lighter side of the trees, it is clear that the sun (from the direction we are looking) is to your left. One of the first things I noticed was the great amount of detail he put into the tree to the far left of the canvas. Though the focus seems to be on the boats in the water, he took a great deal of time to get the light and dark sides of the tree in their correct places and ensure that individual leaves could be seen on the sides. I think what really drew my eyes to this piece, is the sense of oddity that I did not notice right away. It takes a moment to realize, but subconsciously your brain is asking some questions.
Firstly I have to wonder, where is everyone? Six of the seven main boats are depicted without anyone visibly aboard. Only two of the seven appear to be tied up on the side, leaving four boats allegedly unmanned floating in the middle of the river. One of the floating boats does have a man in it, but it is definitely only floating, since the sails are down. Then I wonder why? The day that he chose to immortalize does not seem to be good for boating. Ninety percent of the top of the canvas is depicting cloudy skies, with only a small portion of blue sky, the rest of the sky fading down to the horizon line seems to be fully cloudy. To support this assumption, none of the boats in the foreground have sails up.
According to the article by the Musée d’Orsay Museum, Claude Monet lived in
Argenteuil during the 1870’s and painted over 170 canvases there. More than half of them show boats sailing and racing in the regattas that had been popular…