“Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet
“Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet is an impressionist painting showing Monet’s first wife, Camille Doncieux (1847-1879), whom he depicted in many of his paintings. The garden is in the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil, which was associated with the house where Monet, his wife and young son Jean had lived since 1871. This garden together with Camille appears in many Monets paintings depicting the pleasures of country life. However, this picture is invested with a more gloomy mood, because it was painted shortly after Camille received the news that her father had died. In her visible hand, she holds the letter with the message, and it is shown as a horizontal white brushstroke. The man has been interpreted as the messenger of death.
Monet’s lighting of the image ranges from bright sunshine and colour in the left rear area to a deep shadow with muted tones in the right foreground. This painting was a turning point in Monet’s work as it was his last painting in which people were the key focus. His later works focused on the garden with people in the background. Although people play a role in his later paintings, the focus was on the effects of light on the skin, clothes and flowers.
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.
- Has Monet captured his wife’s mood upon receiving the letter with news that her father had died?
- Does the sunny left side of the composition with the colourful flowers show Monet’s expectations that his wife’s mod will be bright again?
- Is the man behind has been Camille Monet, the messenger of death?
Explore European Paintings in the MET
- “Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon
- “Saint Jerome as Scholar” by El Greco
- “Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez
- “Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet
- “View of Toledo” by El Greco
- “The Musicians” by Caravaggio
- “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David
- “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers
- “The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog)” by Claude Monet
- “Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne
- TREASURES of the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
Camille Monet on a Garden Bench
- Title: Camille Monet on a Garden Bench
- Artist: Claude Monet
- Year: 1873
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 60.6 x 80.3 cm (23 7/8 x 31 5/8 in)
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
- Name: Oscar-Claude Monet
- Born: 1840 – Paris, France
- Died: 1926 (aged 86) – Giverny, France
- Nationality: French
- Movement: Impressionism
“The richness I achieve comes from Nature,
the source of my inspiration..”
– Claude Monet
Photo Credit: 1) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons