What riddles Claude Monet left in his painting “Poppies”
Claude Monet is an artist whose name is inseparable from impressionism. He painted landscapes, water lilies, poplars, ladies in the garden, women with umbrellas, the London parliament, boats, the Normandy coast and … poppies. He captured these delightful red meadow treasures with a single brush stroke of bright red against a background of endless green fields. The painting Poppy Field was painted in the vicinity of Argenteuil (northwestern suburb of Paris), where Monet lived between 1871 and 1878. A beautifully depicted summer day is captured in all its glory with bright poppies complementing thin clouds in a clear blue sky.
Shapes and objects
A young woman with an umbrella and a child is the wife of the artist Camilla and their son Jean. The sky seems to be filled with moving clouds, and Camilla, holding an umbrella, was clearly ready for a rainy day. Two separate color zones were established: one with a predominance of red, and the other with a bluish-green color. In fact, there are some suggestions that the place in the picture is located next to the city, and not in the heart of the countryside. The figures are dressed as middle-class people, not peasants, and the house in the background is a solid villa, not a rural cottage. That is why it is believed that the scene is a meadow in Argenteuil, where Monet lived and painted at that time.
The artist’s brush in this picture is diverse and informal. Various textures and shapes of figures, flowers, herbs, foliage and clouds were used without any small details. Monet diluted the contours and created a colorful rhythm with drops of paint, starting with the sprinkling of poppies. Disproportionately large spots in the foreground indicate the primacy that he made on the visual impression. The artist took a step towards the direction of abstract art.
In each picture is hidden symbolism. The poppy itself is a beautiful flower, and its symbolic meaning attracts even more. Poppies are often seen as a symbol of sleep, peace and death, and poppies on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. The vision of death as an eternal dream was typical of romantics who believed that death is a state in which all the desires of the soul are finally realized. And, apparently, the poppy motif also attracts representatives of impressionism.
What mysteries does Monet’s picture hide?
In addition to symbolism, you can find a number of interesting puzzles in the picture. If you look closely at the poppies, you will notice some artistic imagination of the master. Poppies are depicted exaggeratedly large, commensurate with the head of the child. In the background, these poppies are even larger than the depicted woman. In the foreground, unusually large red poppies jump out of the green field, gradually decreasing both in size and in contrast, as they harmoniously retreat to a distance. What is such grotesque about? This is an intentional exaggeration. Monet is known to us for his love primarily for the elements of nature. In his paintings, the artist draws more attention of the audience to the flowers than to the person. Once again, he preferred to convey a vivid visual impression of nature, rather than the realism of objects.
In addition, we see two pairs of identical figures in the picture. For what purpose did the artist repeat them? There are two versions: on the one hand, this could be done in order to convey the movement in the picture – here they are from the top of the meadow came to the fore. On the other hand, two pairs of mother and child organize the composition of the picture: the foreground and background are divided by a diagonal line that structures the picture. He connects the distance between the figures with a decreasing rhythm and the size of his brush strokes and the contrast of his colors.
“Poppies” is a beautifully pictured summer day, captured in all its glory with bright poppies complementing the thin clouds in the blue sky. The painting was painted during the appearance of the open air (the artist’s work on the painting in the open air). Eugene Boudin, a friend of the artist, wrote: “Everything that is written directly and in place always has the strength and liveliness of touch, which cannot be found in studio work.” And Claude Monet himself was in solidarity with him: with a small portable canvas in his hands, Monet went to the poppies, trying to capture the momentary impression. Transmitting the warm atmosphere of a walk through the fields, this canvas has become one of the most famous landscape paintings of the XIX century.