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Impressionnist Normandy: Claude Monet in Trouville

From May 12 to 14, participants in the "Normandy Impressionist" trip will follow in the footsteps of Claude Monet in Normandy.

This will be an opportunity to return to the latter's stay in Trouville during the summer of 1870, when the dark clouds of war were gathering.

It is all the worldly aspect of this seaside resort that the artist will brilliantly capture. The snapshots of elegant ladies with fragile parasols near the sun-drenched beach are like relics of a recklessness that the Franco-Prussian conflict that broke out on July 19 would quickly sweep away.

La maison des familles Monet et Hoschedé à Vétheuil de nos jours.
Claude Monet. Sur les planches à Trouville. 1870. Collection particulière

On June 28, 1870, Claude Monet, who lives in Bougival, marries Camille Doncieux, with whom he has lived since 1867, the year of birth of their first son, Jean. Aunt Lecadre, who financially supported the painter, died a few days later, in Sainte-Adresse. The situation of the newlyweds is all the more difficult since it has been two years since Monet had not really known any real success.

Alfred Sisley. Inondations à Port-Marly. 1876. Musée des Beaux Arts de Rouen
Claude Monet. L'Hôtel des Roches Noires. 1870. © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

The little family left Bougival at the beginning of the summer, and after a detour through Louveciennes where Claude Monet deposited a few canvases with Camille Pissarro, they settled in Trouville, in a modest boarding house for commercial travellers, the "Tivoli" hotel.

Camille Pissarro. Le pont Boieldieu à Rouen, soleil couchant, temps brumeux. 1896. Musée des Beaux Arts de Rouen
Claude Monet. Sur la plage à Trouville. 1870. Musée Marmottan-Monet

Claude Monet painted with an original bias, parallel to the sea, when it was customary to stand facing it. The figures, the buildings, the row of boards were obviously as important to him as the sea itself. Camille poses for her husband, in a white summer dress with blue stripes, in front of the Hôtel des Roches Noires the flags are flapping in the wind, the planks allow the pretty women not to get their boots stuck in the sand.

On September 4, the republic is proclaimed, the Empire disappears in the ashes of Sedan. Monet is 30 years old. The war continues. Unlike Degas, Caillebotte or Manet who joined the National Guard, Claude Monet and his family will soon be part of the hundreds of candidates for departure who rush to Le Havre to take the boat to London. He will learn there of the death of second lieutenant Frédéric Bazille at the battle of Beaune-la-Rolande, on November 18, 1870.

To be continued... in the footsteps of Monet and his impressionist friends.

In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...


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