Claude Monet Paintings 1889-1894

Haystacks: End of Summer by Claude Monet  lighting on the subject. See more pictures of Monet's paintings.

Claude Monet's travels in the 1880's had refined his idea of a series. Monet began to direct his attention to a particular feature of the landscape so he could observe the subtle variations in color and illumination over the course of a day. He employed several canvases to capture a single view, switching from one to the next as the light changed.

He now sought to intensify this experience by reducing his options among the factors he could control -- subject, angle, position of easel -- to better comprehend the infinite modulation of tone as light passed over a surface. An effect might only last a moment; the slightest shift of the light source would alter colors, tonality, and the dimensions of the shadows.

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 Monet Image Gallery

Monet had realized that light transformed the essential appearance of his subject. To understand it -- and to realize it on his canvas -- required that he address the subject again and again, if only to capture an instantaneous observation within the infinite range of visual possibilities.

In October 1890, Monet wrote to his friend the writer Gustave Geoffroy that the project he had undertaken was posing unexpected problems. The autumn sun set quickly, and he found that his brush and his eye were not swift enough to record what he had observed. Monet was painting stacks of wheat.

Two years earlier he had become intrigued with the way the local farmers stored their wheat in large mounds in the cleared fields outside Giverny. The rounded contour of the stack suggested to him a stable "envelope" that would be transformed by the fugitive effects of the sun's illumination as it moved east to west in the sky at a slightly different angle each day of the year.

As he worked on the Channel coast, on the Riviera, and in Britanny, Monet began to direct his attention to a particular feature of the landscape so he could observe the subtle variations in color and illumination over the course of a day. He employed several canvases to capture a single view, switching from one to the next as the light changed.

But the volatile weather kept Monet's subject vital and in flux, and he worked to the point of exhaustion. By early April, his energy was spent, and he returned to Giverny having painted 30 works over the course of his two campaigns. Cézanne visited Giverny that November, and he was astonished to see Monet's new work.

Always driven, Monet dismissed his own efforts, convinced he was in pursuit of something that would remain beyond his grasp. But the acuity of his observations and the intensity with which he engaged his subject prompted Cézanne to declare that Monet commanded "the only eye and the only hand that can follow a sunset in its every transparency and express its nuances on the canvas."

See how Claude Monet captures the essence of nature at various stages:

  • Claude Monet's Valley of the Creuse (Sunlight Effect) utilizes a purple palette, deep purple shadows and pale violet highlights. See Monet's early obsession with light and water in Valley of the Creuse (Sunlight Effect).
  • Claude Monet's Prairie a Giverny is a result of Monet curtailing his travel and observing the world around him. Check out Monet's Prairie a Giverny.
  • Haystacks: End of Summer by Claude Monet captures the beauty of the late August sun. Discover Monet's Haystacks: End of Summer.
  • Grainstacks in Bright Sun by Claude Monet uses dramatic colors to capture the natural perception of the light. Learn more about Claude Monet's Grainstacks in Bright Sun.
  • Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset) by Claude Monet portrays the effects of the late winter thaw. Learn more about Monet's Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset).
  • Claude Monet's Poplars, White and Yellow Effect suggests the stirring of a mild breeze through Monet's lively stroke. Check out Monet's Poplars, White and Yellow Effect.
  • Claude Monet's painting Four Trees illustrates his venture into alternative borders and uses of light. Learn more about Monet's painting, Four Trees.
  • Claude Monet's preoccupation with Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain caused him to put all of his other paintings aside in order to capture the effects of winter. Learn about Claude Monet's obsessive focus on Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain.
  • Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte by Claude Monet was almost never completed. Find out more behind Monet's painting, Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte.
  • Claude Monet's The Portal, Harmony in Brown was painted from his apartment window, giving a unique point of view to the work. See Monet's The Portal, Harmony in Brown.
  • Rouen Cathedral, Morning Sun, Blue Harmony by Claude Monet could only be truly appreciated by accepting the individual canvas as part of the whole series. Check out Rouen Cathedral, Morning Sun, Blue Harmony by Claude Monet.
  • Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) was one of Claude Monet's more demanding works. See the fruit of Monet's labor in Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect).

See how Monet handles sunlight effects in the next section where we'll show you the Valley of the Creuse.To learn more about art, famous artists, and art history, check out:

Valley of the Creuse (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet

Valley of the Creuse (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-5/8 x 36-1/4 inches) and is housed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Valley of the Creuse (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-5/8 x 36-1/4 inches) and is housed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Claude Monet made two trips to the Creuse Valley near Fresselines in central France in 1889. He particularly liked a point at which two rivers, the Grande Creuse and Petite Creuse, converged.

Monet observed the rounded rise of the shoreline and the massive boulders, smoothed by the flowing waters, at different times of the day. Under sunlight, the land flickers with deep purple shadows and pale violet highlights, and the blue water breaks into white over the rocks.

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Prairie a Giverny by Claude Monet reveals some of the natural beauty in Monet's own backyard. Go to the next section to see Giverny in its glory in Monet's Prairie a Giverny.

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Prairie a Giverny by Claude Monet

The natural features of Giverny offered a wide variation of landscape subjects. Here, Monet paints a meadow just coming into bloom with wild iris. As he settled into his new home, Claude Monet curtailed his travel and concentrated on the close observation of the region at different times of day and different seasons of the year.

In this series, Monet experimented with capturing the late August sun. See Claude Monet's Haystacks: End of Summer in the next section.

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Haystacks: End of Summer by Claude Monet

Haystacks: End of Summer by Claude Monet is one of a series where Monet studies the effect of light and season on the same subject.
Haystacks: End of Summer by Claude Monet is one of a series where Monet studies the effect of light and season on the same subject.

Claude Monet resumed painting the stacks of grain in late August 1890. Day after day he revisited the same field and the same subject, differentiated now solely by the natural course of light and the subtle variations achieved by the placement of his easel, the pigment on his palette, and the touch of his brush. The challenge of this series occupied Monet for six subsequent months.

Grainstacks in Bright Sun features dramatic colors to capture the natural perception of the light. Learn more about Claude Monet's Grainstacks in Bright Sun in the next section.

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Grainstacks in Bright Sun by Claude Monet

Grainstacks in Bright Sun by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (23-5/8x39-3/8 inches) from the Alfred Atmore Pope Collection, Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, Connecticut.
Grainstacks in Bright Sun by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (23-5/8x39-3/8 inches) from the Alfred Atmore Pope Collection, Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, Connecticut.

Claude Monet selected warm yet dark colors -- reds and purples tempered with blue -- to portray the effect, and he bleached out the sky with a harsh yellowish white.

The blinding light of the sun at its highest ascent cast shadows on the stacks and the surrounding earth. These dramatic effects challenged him to find the color equivalents to the natural phenomenon of light and the sensations of visual perception.

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Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset) portrays the effects of the late winter thaw. In the next section, check out Monet's Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset).

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Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset) by Claude Monet

Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset) by Claude Monet is oil on canvas (25-1/2 x 36-3/8 inches), housed at The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel C. Searle
Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset) by Claude Monet is oil on canvas (25-1/2 x 36-3/8 inches), housed at The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel C. Searle

To create Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset) (1890-91), Claude Monet would turn his attention from one canvas to the next, allowing nature's cycle to direct his work as the light changed during the course of the day. When he concluded the series, he had completed at least 25 paintings.

Here, vivid hues and broken strokes enliven the surface of the canvas in Monet's observation of the effects of the late winter thaw on the stable forms of the stacks under the setting sun.

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Poplars, White and Yellow Effect by Claude Monet features striking patterns and contrasts in nature. In the next section, see Monet's Poplars, White and Yellow Effect.

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Poplars, White and Yellow Effect by Claude Monet

Poplars, White and Yellow Effect by Claude Monet (39-3/8x25-5/8) oil on canvas, is housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Poplars, White and Yellow Effect by Claude Monet (39-3/8x25-5/8) oil on canvas, is housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Claude Monet's Poplars, White and Yellow Effect (1891) shows his point of view across the river toward the trees and that he incorporated their reflections upon the water. Through this he transformed his subject into an elegant pattern, with the trunks painted in dazzling yellow but mirrored in green on the water's surface. The pale blue of the sky strikes an atmospheric contrast, and the lively stroke suggests the stirring of a mild breeze on a warm day.

Four Trees by Claude Monet experiments with boundaries, patterns, and perspective. Check out the next section to see the bold choices featured in Monet's Four Trees.

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Four Trees by Claude Monet

Four Trees by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (32-1/4 x 32-1/8 inches) housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Four Trees by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (32-1/4 x 32-1/8 inches) housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

In the composition Four Trees, Claude Monet took the daring step of making the lean trunks of the poplars reach up beyond the boundary of his canvas.

With the reflections on the water below, the trunks cast an abstract and decorative pattern in purple and brown against the blue sky and on the water, with its clouds of rising pink and yellow mist. Monet created the sparkling surface effect with light dabs of pigment, building his forms with pure color.

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Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain by Claude Monet shows more of Monet's experimentation with color and shadow. Check out the next section to see Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain.

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Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain by Claude Monet

Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-3/4 x 36-1/4 inches) and is housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-3/4 x 36-1/4 inches) and is housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The later paintings in this series by Claude Monet employ icy hues to evoke winter's chill. In the painting the Grainstacks, Effect of Snow and Rain (1891), the wheat stacks now cast cool blue shadows on the frozen ground, and the background dissolves into a silvery mist.

Monet set aside all other work to paint the stacks of wheat, saying he could not be distracted from the wonderful winter effects on his subject.

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Claude Monet's Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte was only completed through a bold financial move made by Monet. In the next section, find out what Monet did in order to finish Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte.

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Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte by Claude Monet

Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (32-1/8 x 32-1/4 inches) and is housed at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (32-1/8 x 32-1/4 inches) and is housed at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.

While Claude Monet was working on his series of poplars, such as the Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte (1891-92), he received the distressing news that the land was up for sale and the trees sold for lumber.

First he petitioned the village council to reverse their decision, and, when they refused, he struck a deal with a wood merchant, and they bought the land together. With his investment, Monet convinced the merchant to allow the trees to stand at least until he finished his series of 24 canvases.

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The Portal, Harmony in Brown by Claude Monet features a medieval cathedral as the subject. In the next section, learn more about Monet's The Portal, Harmony in Brown.

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The Portal, Harmony in Brown by Claude Monet

The Portal, Harmony in Brown by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (42-1/8 x 28-3/4 inches) and is housed at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
The Portal, Harmony in Brown by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (42-1/8 x 28-3/4 inches) and is housed at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Early in 1892, Claude Monet rented a small apartment in Rouen opposite the French town's medieval cathedral. Built over the span of four centuries -- from the 12th through the 16th -- the ancient structure provided the subject for his new series.

He first set up his easel in the square but wrote to his wife Alice that the souvenir seller asked him to move, fearing he would drive away customers. Monet painted The Portal, Harmony in Brown (1892) as a straightforward view of the portal from his apartment window.

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Rouen Cathedral, Morning Sun, Blue Harmony by Claude Monet was part of a series that was declared a revolution in painting. See Monet's Rouen Cathedral, Morning Sun, Blue Harmony.

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Rouen Cathedral, Morning Sun, Blue Harmony by Claude Monet

Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (35-7/8 x 24-3/4 inches) and is housed at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (35-7/8 x 24-3/4 inches) and is housed at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

In May 1895, Claude Monet exhibited 20 canvases from the Rouen Cathedral series in a solo exhibition in his dealer's Paris gallery, including the Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) painted in 1893.

Georges Clemenceau, publisher of the journal La Justice, declared that the works constituted a revolution in painting. To fully appreciate the scope of Monet's achievement, he instructed viewers to experience the individual canvases as a single expression.

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Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) demanded Monet's constant attention in order to achieve the desired light effect. See Monet's Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) in the final section.

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Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet

Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (39-3/8 x 25-5/8 inches) and is housed at Musée Marmottan, Paris.
Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (39-3/8 x 25-5/8 inches) and is housed at Musée Marmottan, Paris.

Claude Monet painted the Rouen Cathedral at the End of the Day (Sunlight Effect) (1893-94) so the bright sunlight on the facade of the cathedral made the surface dissolve into patterns of light and color. Claude Monet used bleached-out hues to capture the almost blinding effect.

In his letters home he described the effort it took to keep working so as to capture an effect before the light changed. The letters also reveal that he missed his wife Alice and Giverny but that his subject required intense and constant attention.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American painting, including Publication International, Ltd.'s, Impressionism and Van Gogh. Other titles include Sunflowers, Monet's Garden in Art, Van Gogh: Fields and Flowers, and Mary Cassatt: Reflections of Women's Lives. Ms. Mancoff is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.