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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Meules, milieu du jour” by Claude Monet (National Gallery of Australia)

Meules, milieu du jour by Claude Monet

“Meules, milieu du jour” by Claude Monet

“Meules, milieu du jour” by Claude Monet is the original French title which means ‘Stacks middle of the Day” and is part of a series of piles of harvested wheat. The series consists of twenty-five canvas which Monet began near the end of the summer of 1890 and though Monet also produced earlier paintings using this same stack subject. The impressionist series is famous for how Monet repeated the same theme to show the differing light and atmosphere at different times of day, across the seasons and in many types of weather. Monet’s Haystacks series is one of his earliest to rely on repetition of a subject to illustrate a subtle difference in colour perception across variations of times of day, seasons, and weather.

The stacks belonged to Monet’s neighbour, and Monet noticed from his farm the way the light changed on the stacks. Monet started with two canvases, a sunny and an overcast version. But Monet soon found he could not catch the ever-changing light and mood on just two paintings. Although he began painting the stacks en plein air, Monet later revised his first impressions in his studio, both to generate contrast and to keep the harmony within the series.

The Haystacks series was a financial success for Monet. When the Haystack series was first exhibited in 1891, every painting sold within days. The show met with great public acclaim and as most of the pictures sold quickly, Monet’s prices began to rise steeply. As a result, he was able to buy outright for his house and grounds at Giverny and to start constructing a waterlily pond. After years of mere subsistence living, he was able to enjoy financial success.

Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the term “Impressionism” is derived from the title of his painting Impression, “soleil levant” or “Impression, Sunrise”, which was exhibited in 1874. Monet adopted a method of painting in which he painted the same scene many times to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. Monet is known for having produced a series of paintings all versions of the same subject and perspective. Examples include his series of the “Valley of the Creuse” series and his famous series of “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies” paintings.

From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where at his home, he developed a garden landscape which included the lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings, with the water lilies as the main feature. This series occupied him for the last 20 years of his life.

Reflections

  • Which is your favourite painting of the Haystacks series?
  • Which is your favourite Monet series?
    • Grand Canal, Venice
    • Rouen Cathedral
    • The Houses of Parliament
    • Water Lilies
    • Valley of the Creuse

Meules, milieu du jour

  • Title:               Meules, milieu du jour
  • Artist:             Claude Monet
  • Year:              1890-91
  • Medium:        Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:  Height: 65.6 cm (25.8 ″); Width: 100.6 cm (39.6 ″)
  • Museum:      National Gallery of Australia

Claude Monet

Explore the National Gallery of Australia

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“Colors pursue me like a constant worry. They even worry me in my sleep.”
– Claude Monet

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Photo Credit: 1) Claude Monet [Public domain]

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