signed Claude Monet (lower left)
Galerie Romanet, Paris
Acquired from the above by the father of present owner
Claude Monet's skill as a draughtsman is relatively unknown, and pastels are especially rare in his œuvre. The majority of his work in this medium is dedicated to recording the landscapes and seascapes of his beloved Normandy, where he spent much of his youth. As he began to develop as a painter, it was to Normandy that he returned, joining his fellow artists Boudin, Sisley, Jongkind and Daubigny at the Ferme Saint-Simeon near Honfleur.
A short distance from the Saint-Simeon, the present view is taken from the top of the Vallée de la Lézarde, a tributary of the Seine which passes the town of Harfleur. Monet renders this scene with a miraculous spontaneity and vigour. To the left one can discern the spire of the church of Harfleur, and in the far distance, the estuary of the Seine, just before it reaches the English channel. Though its date is uncertain, since Monet himself apparently confused the chronology of these works later in his life, it was probably executed in the 1870s.
The intimate and informal nature of this work makes it a perfect example of true plein air painting, the pastel medium being ideally suited to capturing the artist's impression of the scene before him. Most of Monet's pastels appear to date from the early years of his career, at a time when Impressionism was beginning to flourish. Monet displays a great mastery in his handling of pastel in this work, allowing the viewer a glimpse of his extraordinary sense of luminosity, harmony and colour.
FIG. I, Etienne Carjat, Claude Monet at the age of 20
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