Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, 1874
Oil on canvas, 55 x 65 cm
During the Franco-Prussian War Monet was in London, and upon his return in 1871 he moved with his family to Argenteuil. A picturesque, historic town and a developing suburb, Argenteuil was just 15 minutes from Paris by train, and in the second half of the nineteenth century was unrivalled for Sunday trips and pleasure boating. Over the following years Sisley, Renoir, and Pissarro joined Monet to paint in the region of Argenteuil and the surrounding villages. As the once rural areas became increasingly accessible by rail, they became popular weekend retreats for Parisians. These young artists, dedicated to painting contemporary urban bourgeois life, were attracted by this blend of traditional landscape and modernity.
Monet acquired a boat, which he turned into a floating studio, and the River Seine and its sailing boats became the principal theme of his paintings. In this picture, the town of Argenteuil can only be glimpsed on the horizon. Light and its effect on the water's surface - captured by distinct, bold brush strokes - is the true subject matter of the painting.
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