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.