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Claude Monet (French, 1840 1926)
The Church at Varengeville, Grey Weather, 1882, oil on canvas.
Bequest of Mrs. Blakemore Wheeler 1964.31.20

In the 1880s Monet began more often to paint directly from nature, a practice that would become central in his later works. During this period he made several visits to Northern France and did a number of paintings of the area’s coastline. In 1882 Monet made several plein air paintings of the medieval church at Varengeville, a fishing village in Normandy. This is one of three views of the church that he painted at various times of day and in differing atmospheric conditions. He would have set up his easel on the hillside opposite the church and probably worked on the canvas over several sessions. He made a practice of returning to a scene at the correct time of day in order to closely study the effects of light on the landscape. The twin trees dominate the little church in the distance, creating an asymmetrical composition inspired by Monet’s interest in Japanese prints. Thick layers of paint built up in complementary colors and frenzied brushwork define the foliage in the foreground, bringing a sense of immediacy to an otherwise serene composition.




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