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Claude Monet: Madame Gaudibert


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Madame Gaudibert, by Claude Monet

Madame Gaudibert, 1868, oil on canvas, 217×138.5cm

Monet spent his childhood Le Havre where he met he met fellow artist Eugène Boudin, who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints. Boudin taught Monet “en plein air" (outdoor) techniques for painting. In 1862, he once learned from a academic artist, but with little success. So, he with Bazille, Renoir, Sisley and other friends, studied painting by himself.

They often sketched at the edge of the woods or by the seaside in Normandy. At the beginning, Monet's paintings made a success in the official arts exhibition, but soon was blocked, because some of the work which created outdoors, such as the “Women in the Garden" (1867, Musée d'Orsay), has led scandals and resistance in the public. It was very difficult for the public to accept such highly spontaneous, general and free techniques of painting.

In 1870, Monet went to London to escape the war at that time. In 1871, he returned home via the Netherlands. During this period, he had got access to the masterpieces by the old masters Frans Hals and Turner, and benefited a lot from them. We can find this influence from his oil painting “Impression, Sunrise" ( Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris) created in 1872 in Le Havre, which had been exhibited in the first Impressionist exhibition. From then on, Monet had became the leading figure in the new art movement. Whether in his residence (from 1883 on he lived in Giverny), or the city which he had visited (from 1899 to 1901, he had visited London for three times), his works have attracted vast attention.

After tireless research and exploration, he had produced a number of serialized works in the early 1900s, and completed a lot of oil paintings on the subject of water lily and eventually became one of the most famous masters of the Impressionist paintings. “Camille" or “Woman in the Green Dress, " which was displayed on the salon in 1866, has been highly acclaimed by the public. One critic at the time said Camille “speaks whole volumes to me about energy and truth" and described Monet as being" more than a realist, someone who knows how to interpret each detail with delicacy and power".

These compliments caused Monet’s parents become restless, and they wanted to see him take the academic style. Portrait was one of the most popular themes, and displaying the portraits on the official exhibition foretold Monet’s glorious future. He was very confident of future success, and dedicated himself to his ambitious plan.

The portrait of his wife Camille “A Woman in the Garden" which was painted in the open air, was created for the Salon in 1867. But before it was declined by the judges of the exhibition, it had called forth overwhelming criticism in the public. As when in his extreme economic difficulties, the artist ran away and hided himself the house of Le Havre, while Camille were left in Paris and fortunately received generous help from Bazille.

Bent on the work, Monet wanted to earn money back to Pairs. In September 3nd, 1869, Monet received a commission from a Le Havre businessman Mr. Gaudibert, who ordered a portrait for his wife. Deeply inspired by the work in 1866, Monet again used the post of the previous model, but changed the directions. The model was placed in the room, not in the unrestricted space where the model could move around freely as the last time. He applied various colors instead of the previous simple color with green stripes: Mrs. Gaudibert was in the picture's central; she dressed in a piece of yellow-green dress; the skirt was decorated of white lace collar, lapel, and there was a gold jewelry in the collar; she was embraced in a scarf with red, black and white color. Part of it was appeared on the brown and green tapestry which was embroidered with flower patterns (which was simply painted with several brushstrokes), and another part was presented against the blue valance with red border. On the table behind the model, there placed a piece of dark cloth and a footed glassware in which placed two green leafy yellow roses. The head of the model turned to the left, the part of no decorative elements, and a silhouette appeared in front of the audience. Against the black earrings and thick black hair, her face looked even paler. The brushstrokes of Monet’s painting look very natural, free and easy; to the certain content, he didn’t make an accurate portrayal and created a mapping feature. There are unique features of classical painting. This painting is the last portrait by the great artist, for a long period of time, he had a preference for landscapes. This oil painting symbolized the peak of his early painting career.


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