Art History-Baroque 20th Century: Impressionism–Letters from Monet : Fountain Essays


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Please read the following articles in order to get a solid overview of the Impressionist Movement, and then watch the three videos below. Two are short (only a few minutes) and one is long. In the first two videos it’s quite an amazing feeling to watch actual footage of Monet painting his famous Water Lilies, and to see Renoir in his studio, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis but still working away with a smile! The third video is just awesome, a BBC Docudrama on the Impressionists. I’m only requiring the 1st installment of a four-part series, but feel free to watch the rest if you have time, it’s worth it!

These articles contain either embedded images or links to images of the artists’ works, so make sure you click on those to get a good view of what has often been called the most beautiful period in the history of painting.

When you have finished reading/watching, please complete the following writing assignment:

While much of the BBC film you’ve watched is comprised of imaginary conversations amongst Monet and his peers, pay careful attention to the spirit of this story, including the radical changes happening as the world of art transitioned from artist-as-skilled-laborer, to a time when artists’ individual self-expression was just beginning to be considered valuable.

What were Monet’s goals as an artist? What challenges did he encounter? Who supported him? How did he set out on his artistic journey?

For Part 1 of your assignment, you will write from the perspective of Claude Monet, in the form of a letter to your dearest friend (this can be a fictitious character, a historical figure, or a real friend of yours, whatever speaks to you in a way you feel you can write to them authentically). Your letter will consist of at least two paragraphs (each paragraph must be at least five well-developed sentences) written in the first person perspective, detailing your artistic ambitions and your hopes to achieve them. Explain your vision, the obstacles in your way, and how you plan to overcome those obstacles. As you write to your friend/colleague, explain how events unfolding in your life and your community are influencing your work. Write in a style and language that you imagine Monet would have used.

And be sure to INCLUDE an IMAGE of your favorite painting that you’ve completed (as Claude Monet!)

For Part 2 of your assignment, you will respond to one of your classmates’ Monet letters, and you may take on the persona of whomever they’ve chosen to write to, be it a character from the docudrama, a personal friend, or a completely fictitious character. Please write at least two paragraphs (at least five sentences for each paragraph) on your response to Monet’s work (remember he is your friend, so be nice!) 

Classmate’s Monet letter:

Dear Uncle Pierrto

Some time has passed since we last spoke. I hope you are doing well, along with the rest of the family. Time has slipped away since my father has cut out my allowance for choosing to stay with the women who is caring my child. But within that obstacle my dearest friends have kept me inspired and have funded me by purchasing one of my paintings. Not long before the cutting of my allowance i was inspired by a Manet painting “Le Dejeuner sur I’herbe”. Such a piece showed the livelyhood of the painter in the brush strokes. I yearn and live to paint the world that surrounds me. I sooner nor than later created a painting that got some attention. The women in a green dress. Who people thought Manet painted it. It hurt to have noticed the indifference between me and Manet, the one who inspired my journey. His attitude seemingly bleak since i styalized a painting like his. Whom for his work is ridiculed and frowned apon. But until the moment we officially met. Even the word of the duel between Manet and his friend still seemed to unhinder his artistic eye, which he lightly commented that my painting was mistaken for one of his own. We sat that night over drinks among my friends as company.

Only selling one painting to my dearest friend Bazille i found myself to be a broke artist roaming around with his family. Painting what i can in places i have been. I want to capture reality, i want to paint the world as i saw it. And not uphold the stylistic ways of the past. My goal was to paint outside in open air, to create paintings the world has never seen. I was slowly losing my sight for the fine lines and attention to detail and instead gaining a perception of color and emotion. As the war broke out and many of my closests friends enlisted to fight for the country. While I on the other hand had a family to worry about so we made our way to England. There i am writing to you now. I am blown away by this country and the many shades and saturations of grey. So much to discover and to paint. The palette of my paintings have transitioned from bright hues to saturated plops of grey’s and whites. But for now dear uncle i wish you well and hope to see you all very soon.

This is one of my favorite pieces because of the water. Water is one of the biggest key characters I enjoy to watch and replicate onto canvas. Especially in oil since it flows so smoothly as if I were painting water. As I piled layers of paint onto each other in horribly articulate brush strokes I felt as if the painting was giving me life.


Claude Monet

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