DETAIL : 
Martin Johnson HEADE  
United States of America 1819 � 1904-09-04  
Sunlight and shadow: the Newbury Marshes c.1871-75, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. John Wilmerding Collection (Promised Gift). Image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
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EXHIBITION GROUPING : GALLERY 1 | GALLERY 2 | GALLERY 3 | GALLERY 4 | GALLERY 5 | GALLERY 6 |

Gallery 5:

Paintings by Courbet, Monet and Seurat of the coasts of Normandy – at Trouville, Dieppe and Grandchamp – could hardly be more different. All three artists experiment with combinations of sea, sky and other landscape features, but their works are made with brushstrokes ranging from broad blues, yellows and purples to the tiny, precise colour combinations of Pointillism. Monet, painter of city life and inveterate traveller from the 1860s to the 1880s, continued to paint in series while choosing motifs closer to home. Haystacks, midday is part of a beautiful series that is remarkable for the range of light and weather conditions depicted in it. The paint seems to resonate within an ‘envelope’ of midday heat.

Haystacks, small villages and scenes of rural life provided everyday subjects, although these were treated in a new way. Increasingly, as the nineteenth century progressed, signs of industrial life became visible. After all, new railway lines allowed artists and others to travel from town to the seaside. They could now live relatively cheaply in the country, while still being accessible to dealers or wealthy patrons. In modern cities, nature is controlled. Roberts and Pissarro observed city streets from high viewpoints, an innovation perhaps prompted by photography. Artists such as Signac and Seurat force the viewer to do at least part of the work of seeing: their short, straight strokes of pure colour blend when viewed from the right distance. These calm, luminous views – with only a suggestion of human presence – illustrate the extent to which the motif of landscape comes to be subordinated to the aesthetic of modernism.