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View of Argenteuil, snow
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Group: Modern Life Modern Vision

Artist: Claude MONET
Birth/Death: 1840–1926

Title: View of Argenteuil, snow
Date Made: c.1875

Lender: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Credit Line: Gift of the Laura Nelson Kirkwood Residuary Trust

Monet’s interest in Japanese brushmarks — whether direct or translated into a print — was as much about new spontaneous ways of looking as it was of new ways of making paintings. Japanese modes of representation helped his vision and mark-making to become the same act. This can be seen vividly in the View of Argenteuil, snow of c.1875. To represent his sensations of an icy winter day Monet used scales of cold colours — white tinged with violet and lavender, lavender-blues in the hills, dull lavender-greys in the foreground, brighter violets for the closer bushes and trees. These are interwoven with the warmer ochres and Indian reds in the buildings, and accented by the dark ‘twisted’ brushstrokes of the figures leaving the station and the dark lines of fences, windows, lines of walls and eaves. Similarities can be seen in the way Hiroshige articulates the snow, the sky and the river in Ochanomizu. He too used dominant scales of colours — white, a scale of blues from grey-blue to sharp bright blues, accented with a few patches of varied reds and yellows — and represented twigs and branches, bushes and grasses in the snow, forcelines in the cliffs, snowflakes in the sky and floating ice in the river with a multiplicity of tiny, varied marks. In Monet’s painting the countless tiny marks, the loops of white in the sky, the blue-violet markings on the hills, the smears of white on roofs or distant slopes draw attention to the constructive role of the abstract brushmark, while the mobile perspective keeps the eye moving from one area to the next, reading the marks of paint as if it were moving through a landscape.

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