Acquired at the above sale
This beautifully rendered, full-length portrayal of Camille belongs to a group of works dating from August 1876, painted in the garden of Monet's second house at Argenteuil, where he and his family lived from October 1874 until early 1878. As Paul Hayes Tucker noted, during the summer months Monet "painted almost nothing but idyllic garden pictures ... retreats into the untrammeled past" and was preoccupied with "pastoral scenes of idyllic reverie" (P. H. Tucker, Claude Monet: Life and Art, New Haven & London, 1995, pp. 90 & 92). As John Rewald observed, "no single place could be identified more closely with Impressionism than Argenteuil" (J. Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1973, p. 341), and some of Monet's best early paintings were executed in this region, inspired by its unspoiled nature. Renoir, who lived in Paris, frequently joined Monet at Argenteuil where the two artists painted together.
In the 1870s, Argenteuil was becoming one of the fastest growing regions in the vicinity of Paris, combining lush nature surrounding the river Seine with signs of modernization and industrialization. With the advance of the steamboat and railway, the Argenteuil path along the Seine became a popular promenade, rather than a commercial route it had been in the past, and this area was usually busy with the bateaux-lavoirs and people strolling along the river. Writing about Monet's years at Argenteuil, Paul Hayes Tucker commented: "When Monet came to Argenteuil in 1871 he was seeking greater contact with nature for the sake of his new family and of his art. The Paris he left behind had received during the Second Empire acres of new parks and thousands of new trees thanks to Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann. But during the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune, much of the Bois de Boulogne and many of the trees along the new boulevards were burned or chopped down. When Monet left he was escaping the city for greener pastures, just as thousands of others were who had moved to the suburbs before him" (P. H. Tucker, op. cit., 1982, p. 127).
Unlike other works from the group, which depict Camille in the distance, often reading or walking, dominated by nature, in the present painting the artist divided his attention equally between the figure and her surroundings. Camille occupies the center of the composition, walking down a sunlit path, having just emerged from a shadow under the trees and plants. Her dress and hat are painted in brushstrokes of brilliant pink, purple and yellow pigment, reflecting the strong sunshine of a summer day, while the right side of the composition is dominated by colorful flowers painted in quick dabs of red, blue and green. Holding a bouquet of flowers, which she had probably just picked, in one hand, and a bright green parasol in the other, Camille stands in sharp contrast with the shadowy part of the garden behind her. The lush, rich treatment of the garden with its flowerbeds, trees and the path demonstrates the delight Monet took in painting nature, drenched in light and shimmering with color, and reflects the development of his style during a critical period of Impressionism.
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