top of page

Monet in Pourville

It is part of the collection of 47 paintings by Claude Monet present at the Art Institute of Chicago. Walk on the cliff at Pourville dates from 1882 and bears witness to the painter's skill in rendering the quivering of the grass in the scintillating light of the month of April.

In 1882, Monet had been a widower for 3 years. The cohabitation in Vetheuil with the Hoschedé family had favored the rapprochement of the painter with Alice Hoschedé to the point that the latter left her husband Ernest to follow Monet in his installation in Poissy at the end of 1881. The trip from Dieppe, Varangeville and Pourville, at the beginning of 1882 was both for Monet the opportunity to

shelter from both personal and professional pressures. At the same time, Pissarro offered him to join the next Impressionist exhibition that he was trying to organize with Caillebotte. This is not an easy task. Monet is far from enthusiastic, Renoir refuses to exhibit with Gauguin, Berthe Morisot Manet conditions her agreement to that of Monet. It takes all the authority of Paul Durand Ruel for Monet to end up presenting 30 canvases at this seventh exhibition of the group.

Excerpt from the presentation of the canvas by the Art Institute of Chicago:

"After a stint in Dieppe, Monet settled in Pourville and remained in this fishing village until mid-April. He fell more and more in love with his environment, writing to Alice Hoschedé and her children: " How beautiful the countryside is becoming, and what joy it would be for me to show you all its delicious nooks and crannies!" He was able to do this in June, when they joined him in Pourville. The two young women who walk on the cliff are probably Marthe and Blanche, the eldest daughters of the Hoschedé family. Blanche Hoschedé, whom Clemenceau called his blue angel, would marry Claude Monet's eldest son, Jean.

In this work, Monet tackles the problem of inserting figures into a landscape without disturbing the unity of its pictorial surface. He integrated these elements together through texture and color. The grass – composed of short, sharp, curving brushstrokes – seems to quiver in the breeze, and subtly modified versions of the same strokes and hues suggest the windswept dresses and shawls of women and the rippling of the sea. X-rays show that Monet reduced the rocky outcrop on the far right to balance the proportions of sea and sky."

bottom of page