"'Learn to draw, that's what most of you lack today.' In a letter written at the age of eighteen, Monet explained how he received this advice from Constant Troyen, the successful landscape painter...Monet wrote with obvious approval, 'as for quality the Troyons are superb and the Daubignys are to my eyes at least really beautiful....' His mood persisted after he arrived in Troyon's studio: 'Troyon seems a really good man and he doesn't mince words'" (The Unknown Monet, Pastels and Drawings (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 55).
Monet first developed and honed his talent as an artist in Normandy. His efforts with drawings and pastels was certainly spurred on by his 1859 trip to Paris where he was exposed to a number of the Barbizon artists as well to the annual Salon. Monet's skill as a draughtsman has been largely undocumented in the narrative of his career and the use of pastels are especially rare in his oeuvre. The majority of his pastels illustrate the landscape of his cherished Normandy, the region where the artist spent much of his adolescence. Interestingly, these pastels were not used as preparatory studies for oil paintings but rather are independent works in their own right.
The intimate and informal nature of Yport et falaise d’Aval makes it a flawless example of a true plein air work and this medium proves ideal for capturing the artist’s impression of the scene before him. The vivid green foreground lures the viewer into the snug seaside cottages filling the middle ground. This sparkling view is marked by a variety of depth and texture, conveying the powerful immediacy of the artist’s hand. Scholar Richard Brettell observes, “There is little doubt that the Impressionist painter Claude Monet was the greatest visual poet of Normandy” (Heather Lemonedes, Lynn Federle Orr & David Steel, Monet in Normandy, New York, 2006, p. 15).
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