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A Corner of the Apartment

Claude Monet1875

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

From 1871, when he returned from England, until 1878, Monet lived in the commune of Argenteuil near Paris. During this period he often featured his wife Camille in his paintings, with their eldest son Jean, born in 1867. He is pictured here, inside the second house that Monet lived in in Argenteuil, with a figure, probably Camille, in shadow in the background.

The foreground here consists of a symmetrical décor: hangings with coloured motifs, green plants, and decorative vases, seen in other paintings by Monet. This composition gives the impression of a curtain opening on to a stage. The viewer's eye is drawn towards the back of the room, towards the illuminated area near the window. In the very centre of the picture, the herringbone pattern of the parquet reinforces the symmetry of the overall view, whilst emphasising the perspective. Then, one after another, one can make out Jean standing slightly to the right, the lamp and the table in the centre, and Camille sitting on the left.

The child's silhouette is reflected on the parquet floor, lit by the daylight from the window.

In this interior, "there is a serious attempt to introduce air and light", as the art critic Gustave Geffroy pointed out in 1894.This silent, intimate scene, an image of everyday family life in Argenteuil, is recreated in a blue-tinted space. This range of colour evokes an atmosphere of tranquillity and poetry, reminiscent of the childhood world of the author Marcel Proust, as he would later describe it in In Search of Lost Time (1913).

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