In April 1874, Paris first met the Impressionists (Witcombe, n.p.). The representatives of this school sought to capture the real world in its mobility and volatility and portray it on canvas, thus conveying incomparable fleeting feeling, the very first impression to every viewer. The paintings of the Impressionists are replete with magical shimmering colors, marvelous silver sky and incredibly vivid scenes from everyday life, which makes the canvases breathing and alive (Witcombe, n.p.).
The whole history of French Impressionism – from its inception to the rise and gradual extinction – fits into a long creative biography of Claude Monet (1840-1926). His knightly dedication to this art direction and loyalty to impressionistic perception of the world distinguish his name even among his fellow artists. Monet studied at private studios in Paris (1859-1863) (Witcombe, n.p.). The talented artist was influenced by Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, and the artists of Barbizon school (Witcombe, n.p.). In the second half of the 1860s, Monet sought to portray the variability of light and colorful richness of the world by means of “plein air painting” (Witcombe, n.p.). At the same time, the artist managed to maintain the freshness of the first visual impressions of nature. One of the best works ever created by Claude Monet is his famous “Boulevard des Capucines in Paris” painted in 1873 (Witcombe, n.p.).
The artist portrays the two famous Parisian views watching from photographer’s studio window overlooking the Boulevard des Capucines. A viewer sees the prospect of the boulevard stretching diagonally towards the Opera House. The flow of the vihicles and the motley crowd seem to look like busy ants. The figures of the passersby are barely outlined with white brushstrokes; the facades of the houses on the opposite side of the boulevard are half-hidden by the branches of the plane trees.
In this artwork Claude Monet conveys his instant impression of a mere spectator. The artist creates the illusion of space filled with light, air and movement. The main effect of this landscape is based on the contrast of light and shadows of the street. Thus, the high vantage point allows the artist to ignore the first plan, and he portrays the radiant sunshine, contrasting it to the blue-purple shadows cast by the houses. Claude Monet resorts to warm palette to portray the sunny side of the boulevard, while purple is used to portray the shadows. Nonetheless light scattering through the haze inherent in the whole composition makes the landscape harmonious.
It seems that the side lighting dematerializes the architecture depicted by the artist. These immaterial architectural details drown in the colorful haze, the outlines of vehicles melt, the branches of the trees dissolve, and the depth of the space gets lost in the movement of glowing air. Thus, a viewer’s eye cannot see the boundary between the vertical plane of the walls and horizontal pavement, between the walls of buildings, which seem so close and well-lit, and the distant blue dusk, hiding the street extension. The figures of all passersby now merge into the mainstream crowd.
First of all, the given masterpiece strikes the viewers with its believability. Moreover, the painting makes us think about the transience of existence and eternity. The artist catches a single moment from Parisian life and makes the viewers admire the splendor of such an ordinary day. People seem to be so small and insignificant. They serve the author’s intention to portray the inexhaustible movement, which is brisk, swift and unpredictable life. This reminds us that time change, generations and celebrated civilizations go into oblivion, but life with all its turmoil, joys and sorrows never ends. Thus, Claude Monet commemorates a single moment in his masterpiece radiating festivity, solemnity, and optimism.
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