Family Audio Tour: Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat

Impressionistic landscape painting of a a river, trees on the riverbank, buildings on the horizon and a white sailboat.
Claude Monet (1840-1926), Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, 1874. © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

Claude Monet (1840-1926), Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, 1874

< Go back to all audio tracks

Transcript

Ide:
Ah, here’s a place I love. There’s no better job in the world than looking after paintings but on a sunny day, I’d give anything to be outside, enjoying the sun by a lovely river.

[swishing of water]

This artist loved the sun and water too. His name was Claude Monet, and he spent his entire life finding ways to paint sunlight. 

Eoin:
So how did he do it?

Ide:
Well, you don’t really see light itself; you see its effect on the world around you – so Monet painted the way light changed the landscape in front of him – the colours in particular, like the deep blue water here and the bright orange trees – I guess it must be autumn.

Eoin:
Blue and orange: I’ve learned about those two colours. They’re called complementary – or opposite – colours, and when you put them together, they clash and make each other look brighter. 

Ide:
Exactly, and that’s why this picture looks so bright! Monet was one of a group of artists called the Impressionists, and what they wanted to do was paint nature just as they saw it. They wanted to capture their first impression of things, so they took their paints and brushes out of doors and painted in the open air.

Eoin:
Even in rain?

Ide:
Even in snow!

Eoin:
And even on a river! Monet must have painted this picture on the water because there’s water left, right and centre.

Ide:
Well spotted! Monet had a small boat that he turned into an art studio so that he could paint on the river. 

Eoin:
And is that why those brushstrokes are so big and obvious? It’s like he painted them quickly before the boat moved. 

Ide [laughing]:
That’s his technique. Monet painted fast to get the colours right before the light changed.

[swishing of water]

Eoin:
I want to go painting outside now!

Ide:
And you, if you could go painting outside, where would you go and what would you paint? Tell whoever you’re with.

Continue your journey

Discover more