Oh the world of Introduction to Art History classes, a world of super-famous artists that everyone has heard of already but doesn’t know exactly why. Well, I suppose we all know this impressionist… Claude Monet anyone? I thought so.
Allow me to direct you to a specific series of his work on the Rouen Cathedral. Monet did several different paintings of this cathedral from the exact same viewpoint, with the only variations in the time of day and weather conditions. This type of work was entirely impressionistic in which the subject matter was not the main focus, but the brush strokes and capturing the qualities of nature were the focus. This was the conceptual revolution people!
(All of these are obviously separate paintings, put together by MOI on Photoshop for easy side-by-side viewing.)
While in my Intro to Art History class I am usually scribbling down the notes that are on the slides and getting cut off mid-jotted-down-sentence by a professor that goes too quickly, today I just sat back and observed. You would have, too.
There are a lot of great things about these paintings. For starters, they were painted outside, en plein-air, on the spot. There were no real preliminary sketches that prepared Monet for the works, rather just paintbrush, oil paints, and canvas. Another great thing is the quickness with which they were created. When one is trying to portray a certain time of day, time is the most important thing, it is a race against the changing colors of the daytime. Nature waits for no one. Not even Claude Monet! Other great things include the believable shadows, depth of architecture, and apparent intricate details.
Monet created many works in this way, as one of the most famous French Impressionist painters of all time. His similar series of haystacks (http://www.monetpaintings.org/107/haystacks/) in a field are equally as fascinating and skillful, if not more. Which is saying something. Agreed? Agreed.