Monet used commercially produced, oil paint, sold in tubes. Previous to the nineteenth century many artists bought dry pigment and oil as separate components which they ground and mixed together by hand. By the 1840s, colour merchants were supplying artists with oil paint contained in collapsible metal tubes. The manufacturer mixed the components of oil and pigment together with additives such as driers and emulsifiers, before packaging the formula into tubes for retail. Oil extracted from linseed, poppy seed and walnut were commonly used to make oil paint at this time. During the nineteenth century, many new pigments were invented from chemicals such as Chrome, Barium and Cobalt. The new range of paints made available at this time was adopted for use by many of the French Impressionist artists, including Monet.
Monet’s use of complimentary colours
Complimentary colours placed side by side appear very strongly contrasted. In 1839 the physicist Chevreul published his text 'The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours'. His theories were well known by the mid nineteenth century and possibly influenced the colour palettes of artists such as Monet. The 1870s was a time in Monet’s career when he began to experiment with colour. In this painting from 1873, Monet has used blue and orange side by side and yellow and violets together. The optical effect he achieved was to heighten tone and contrast within the painting.