“Women in the Garden” is one of the most famous works of French painter Claude Monet, a leading figure in the Impressionist movement that transformed French painting in the second half of the 19th century. This painting was completed in 1866 when Monet was just 26 years old.
The painting is considered significant due to several reasons. First and foremost, it’s a testament to Monet’s groundbreaking approach to outdoor ‘plein air’ painting. Rather than creating a sketch outdoors and then completing the painting indoors, as was the custom at the time, Monet worked on this large canvas entirely outdoors. He even dug a trench in the garden to lower the canvas as he worked on the upper portions, demonstrating his commitment to capturing the scene authentically.
“Women in the Garden” is also notable for its use of light and shadow to convey the atmosphere of a sunny day. Monet painstakingly studied the play of sunlight on his subjects, a method that would become a defining characteristic of his later work and the Impressionist movement as a whole.
The subject matter of the painting – four women in various poses in a garden – is also reflective of Monet’s interest in capturing everyday life. This focus on ordinary scenes was a departure from the historical and mythological themes that dominated much of 19th-century French painting.
Despite these innovative aspects, the painting was rejected by the Paris Salon in 1867, a fact that underscores the radical nature of Monet’s style in the context of his time. It is now held in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
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