Monet's Paris

The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London

St. Germain l'Auxerrois (1867) by Claude MonetAlte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

That same year, Monet painted the Church of St Germain l’Auxerrois from a balcony in the Louvre. Rather than studying the art within the museum, Monet looks out and down to the people in the square in front of the church.

Pont Neuf, Paris (le Pont Neuf a Paris). (1865) by Charles SoulierThe J. Paul Getty Museum

Inspired by the fair, Monet went in search of urban subjects to paint. His cityscapes from this period show an artist attentive to modern life.

The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train (1877) by Claude MonetHarvard Art Museums

St Lazare Station

A few years later, in 1877, Monet painted a dozen canvases of St Lazare Station in central Paris. He was so intent on depicting the station, that he rented a studio nearby. You can see three of these paintings here, all of which focus on trains arriving into the station.

Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877) by Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)The Art Institute of Chicago

Monet was consciously choosing a modern subject; although trains had appeared in paintings before, they were not usually the main subject as they were not considered picturesque.

The Gare St-Lazare (1877) by Claude MonetThe National Gallery, London

In this view of the station, Monet plays with the conventions of landscape, with the roof standing in for the sky, and machine-generated steam creating irregular shapes where you might expect trees.

Argenteuil (c. 1872) by Claude MonetNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Move to the suburbs

Monet and his family had settled in the suburb of Argenteuil in 1871. Northwest of central Paris, the suburb was linked to the capital by both road and the railway terminating at St Lazare Station. 

The Bridge at Argenteuil (1874) by Claude MonetNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Monet used his landscape painter's fascination with nature’s variety and changeable weather to make his pictures of suburban Argenteuil more interesting.

Red Boats, Argenteuil (1875) by Claude MonetHarvard Art Museums

Here, he captures the pleasure boats on the Seine that drew tourists to Argenteuil in the summer months.

Snow Scene at Argenteuil (1875) by Claude MonetThe National Gallery, London

During a famously snowy winter, he painted 18 views of Argenteuil blanketed in snow. Many of them, like this work, show his street – the boulevard Saint-Denis – leading down from the railway station to the river Seine. Monet sacrifices details in favour of atmosphere. 

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