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Monet's suns...

Rising sun in Le Havre in 1872, setting sun in Lavacourt in 1880, Claude Monet painted two canvases eight years apart that are surprisingly similar in their colors and composition. So much so that you could almost juxtapose them to make two orange suns appear whose reflections make the surface of the water iridescent.

Paul Cézanne. Victor Chocquet. 1878. Columbus Museum of Art. Ohio
A gauche Coucher de soleil sur Lavacourt effet d'hiver- 1880 - détail (Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais ) A droite, Impression soleil levant - 1872 - détail (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris)

In 1874, the first exhibition of the Cooperative Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers took place in the studio lent by the photographer Nadar at 35 boulevard des Capucines. Claude Monet presents "Impression Soleil Levant", probably painted in November 1872 at the port of Le Havre. It is this canvas that gave the art critic Louis Leroy, of the newspaper "Le Charivari" the argument that was to give the word "impressionism" its passport for posterity. He writes: "I also thought to myself since I am impressed, there must be some impression in there".


Both paintings in their original format. On the left, Le Havre, on the right, Lavacourt.


In 1880, it was while he was living in Vétheuil with the family of his former patron Ernest Hoschedé, the same man who had bought "Impression soleil levant" for 800 francs 6 years earlier, that Monet painted "Coucher de soleil sur Lavacourt, winter effect".

Lavacourt is a small village located on the other side of the Seine, opposite Vétheuil. Monet has just lost his first wife Camille Doncieux the previous year, and faces, plagued by doubt, one of the most painful periods of his career. He divides his time between painting and stays in Paris, where he tries hard to sell his paintings. Soon, he will move to Poissy with Alice Hoschedé who will separate from her husband to follow him with her six children. It will then be Giverny from 1883.


On both canvases, the sun has the same luminosity as the sky around it. This is what makes it disappear when you desaturate the colors, as you can see below...


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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