The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in Art & History

The Basin at Argenteuil

Musée d’Orsay - Joy of Museums 6

“The Basin at Argenteuil” by Claude Monet was painted during the period when he lived in Argenteuil, from December 1871 until 1878. Monet painted outdoors and he would set up his easel out in the countryside or in his garden. He would then carefully reworked the details of his canvases in his studio.

In his painting with the light and vivid colours, Monet shows his mastery of the technique of fragmented brush strokes to produce an interplay of luminous vibration. The left of the painting is dominated by the shadows of the trees planted along  the Argenteuil promenade, but the major part of the painting is given over to clouds moving across the blue sky.

This painting represents the start of  a productive series of works while he stayed at Argenteuil, as Impressionism reached its peak during the Argenteuil period. Monet wrote later in life:

“My only merit, lies in having painted directly in front of nature, seeking to render my impressions before the most fleeting moments.”

This painting is one of over seventy works Monet painted of the Seine River in Argenteuil. It combines favorite themes of fashionable, leisurely figures strolling, boating and bathing together with backdrops of bridges and landscape features.

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Essential Facts:

  • Title:               The Basin at Argenteuil (Le bassin d’Argenteuil)
  • Artist:             Claude Monet
  • Year:               1872
  • Medium:        Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 60 × 80.5 cm (23.6 × 31.7 in)
  • Museum:       Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:             Oscar-Claude Monet
  • Born :             1840 – Paris, France
  • Died:               1926 (aged 86) – Giverny, France
  • Nationality:    French
  • Notable works:
    • Rouen Cathedral series
    • London Parliament series
    • Water Lilies
    • Haystacks
    • Poplars
  • Movement:       Impressionism

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“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet

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Photo Credit: 1) By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Hiroshige II [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons 3) Hiroshige [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons