Indeed, underlying the beauty of this painting is a subject with special significance for citizens of France. During the French Revolution the poplar had been selected as the tree of liberty. Paul Tucker tells us that “the reasons for this choice remain obscure, but it was most likely due to the derivation of the name from the Latin populous, which means both ‘people’ and ‘popular.’ Whatever the rationale, by 1793, 60,000 poplars had been planted in France and hundreds of broadsides had been issued with the tree as a symbol of the new republic" (Paul Tucker, Monet in the 90s, The Series Paintings, Boston, 1989, p. 138). The poplar continued as an important political symbol during the nineteenth century, and in 1889, at the time of the hundred-year anniversary of the Revolution, there were again ceremonial plantings of poplars throughout the country.
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