Claude Monet

– Water Lily Pond Essay, Research Paper

Claude Monet always stood alone; his feet resounding heavily on the solid road that he was determined to follow until the very end. With tiny, dabbing brush strokes his paintings, more often than not exploded in the golden richness of the sun. With Monet a brush stroke, while imprecise, can suggest an infinity of objects that go beyond the instant and eternalize it. Born in Paris on the 14th November 1840, Claude Monet was one of the masters of the style of art known as Impressionism. The name Impressionism was invented as a term of abuse, hurled by a critic after seeing the Monet painting Impression: Sunrise at an exhibition in 1874. Yet those who practiced the style of art adopted the slur with dignity.

During his life, Monet painted many series of paintings, each one based on a certain subject. One such series is the Japanese Bridge painted in 1899 after the death of his second wife Suzanne. Nine out of eleven paintings were given the title Water Lily Pond, and through out the series an idealized world emerges, an enclosed and secure paradise.

Proportion of the objects in the Water Lily Pond relates directly to their proximity to each other. The aquatic plants that float on the top of the water in the foreground of the piece are large in comparison to those underneath the bridge, whilst the bridge arching over the pond is large, despite being towards the top of painting and thus further away. Yet the imposing size of the bridge dominates the painting regardless.

In the Water Lily Pond, the bridge moves over the pond, lending the painting it s rhythm, drawing the eyes of the viewer along the bridge and under the lake, where the shadow of the bridge lies. Rhythm is also conveyed by the use of similar colours and the textures used on the foliage.

Each brush stroke placed on the canvas by Monet is part of the symphony that makes up the piece. Short, dabbing motions of his brush create the mirage of colours in the water lilies whilst slender, supple strokes impart the willows and the bridge with a soft and realistic look. In the background, towards the far end of the pond, the strokes blend together and the texture appears mottled, providing the painting with its three dimensional feel.

The way in which the light falls on the painting, from the upper left corner and forward creates the dark colours of the bridge, emphasizing it and therefore making it the focal point. In contrast to the other paintings in the series, in this one Monet has lifted the bridge to the top of the page, perhaps symbolizing the change in his life, as his eyes travel past the bridge and into the future without his wife.

Unity is in how a painting is brought together and made one. Monet has unified this painting by using similar colours close to each other and by painting the bridge over the pond and thereby encircling it both with the gray of the bridge and the brown of its shadow in the pond. His painting technique of short, swift strokes have also served to unify the painting.

Water Lily Pond is an unbalanced painting as darker tones and larger shapes are used with more frequency on the left side than the right, thus making it heavier.

With vibrant greens shimmering and colourful splotches of pink and yellow, the Water Lily Pond is harmonious in its colours rather than contrasting. The painting also harmonizes with nature in that it is painted in the same way someone would see it at Monet s garden in Giveney.

In conclusion, Monet has correctly proportioned the plants of the garden so as to reflect nature and used a variety of colour and texture to allow a clear uninterrupted view of the surface of the pond. The swift brush strokes and soft emphasis of the light impart the painting with a sense of calm whilst the tones and silence of the still waters are vague, delicately nuanced and posses a dreamlike delicacy.


Monet s Water Lilies by Vivian Russell

+1998, Hodder Headline Australia Pty. Ltd.

Monet: Water Lilies by Charles F. Stuckey

+1988, Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, NY


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