In August 1878 a financially straitened Claude Monet moved from Paris to Vétheuil, a country town northwest of the capital bordering the Seine river between Paris and Rouen. This was a period of great difficulty for the artist. His wife Camille died in 1879, leaving Monet to raise their children while continuing to carve out a career as an artist. Due to the continued state of penury that Monet endured during this time, he found it necessary to use his talent as an artist to pay for services, as with the father of the present sitter who seems to have assisted the artist with his legal expertise.
The series of portraits (predominantly of his children and those of Alice Hoschedé) are infused with a great sense of intimacy, which the artist transposed onto the canvases depicting the children of his friends and acquaintances in Vétheuil. In the Portrait d'André Lauvray, Monet uses the same compositional devices that can be found in the portrait of his son Jean painted in the same year (see fig. 1). A similar background of a shimmering field of color is built up using impressionist dabs of color. In both pictures Monet has shown his sitter in an almost traditional manner, as though painting for an oval frame with the shoulders and part of the upper torso shown. However, the use of his Impressionist palate and warm skin tones to the face of the sitter are demonstrative of his close relationship and the inspiration he drew from, his friend, Pierre-August Renoir.
With regard to the artist's technique in the 1880s, Andrew Forge wrote: “Color which he now learned to use with an unprecedented purity offers an infinitely subtle and flexible alternative to the traditional massing of light and shade. Systems of interlocking blues and oranges, for example, of lilacs and lemons will carry the eye across the whole surface of the canvas and these color structures, each marvelously turned to the particulars of light will be augmented by a vast range of accents of comma, slash, dot, flake, each attuned economically to its object that the eye is continually at work in its reading” (Andrew Forge in Claude Monet (exhibition catalogue), Acquavella Galleries, New York, 1976, n.p.).
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