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Monet: Autumn Effect at Argenteuil

Introduction

The famous art dealer Joe Duveen is reputed to have blown kisses at his favourite pictures. I dont blow kisses at pictures like Duveen, but when I visit the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery I usually stop in front of this picture to renew my acquaintance, much as one stops to chat to a dear friend.

Monet was the leading Impressionist painter, and this work is the quintessential Impressionist painting. In its day it was a modern landscape painted in a modern style and on a small scale, with no story to tell and no moral instruction to communicate. It attempts to be a faithful rendition in paint of the impressions and sensations experienced by the eye. The location is Argenteuil, one of the small towns close to Paris on the River Seine that were being opened up to industry and commuters by the railways. Monet lived at Argenteuil between 1871 and 1878 and one of his reasons for choosing this view is its familiarity.

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