Falaises à Pourville, soleil levant by Claude Monet


Falaises a Pourville, soleil levant (1897) by Claude MonetFondazione Magnani-Rocca

The artist

Considered as the father of Impressionism, a pictorial movement which is named after the teasing definition formulated by the critic Louis Leroy analyzing a painting (Impression, soleil levant) by the same Parisian painter, Monet did not attend regular academic courses, preferring the direct immersion in the debate with more expert colleagues.

Fascinated by the changing luminist effects of nature, Monet went on working en plein air, undertaking an almost scientific investigation around such chromatic mutability. In 1892 he began the series of the “Rouen Cathedral”, about 20 canvases portraying the same subject in different weather conditions and in different parts of the day.  

He will spend the last years of its life in the beloved Giverny garden, painting the series of the water lilies and of the weeping willows, fighting against an eye disease.

The cliffs widen like an arm in the act of girding the light blue marina; the asymmetry of the landscape section and the marked sequence of the different elements (sea, ground and sky) provide the painter with one of his most favorite glimpse, theatre of extraordinary light effects. 

The scene

The artwork belongs to a series of 5 paintings executed by the artist during the winter of 1897, consisting in some suggestive views of the Pourville cliffs, in Normandy. As a result of long studies, waiting and meditations on the motif, the atmospheric enchantment manifested in an instant is fixed on the canvas in all its elusive unicity.

The dawn amalgamates in a single and soft chromatic symphony the different components of the painting, finding a balance between warm and cold tones in a sense of placid waiting, typical of the early hours of the day.

The objective analysis of the appearance merges with the intimate feeling triggered by it, vanishing and iridescent like the reflection of the rising sun on the sea flakes, as complex to render as fascinating to capture on canvas. 

The pictorial technique

Claude Monet was the most coherent and tireless promoter of the “impressionist method”, denying the traditional aesthetical taste which was still pervading the Salon at the end of the XIX century, pursuing a more genuine and immediate rendition.

Light and colors are considered as the essential elements of the visual perception, while chiaroscuro and perspective are abandoned so to follow a more instinctive and less artificial relation with nature, trying to grasp the pure impression through rapid and synthetic brushstrokes.

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