Claude Monet (1840–1926): The Chailly Road through the Forest of Fontainebleau
Oil on canvas | 97 x 130.5 cm | 1865
Early in his career, around 1865, Monet worked with the motif of the picnic, Dejeuner sur l’herbe. The motif was known from Manet’s famous, epoch-making painting from 1863, which Monet wanted to challenge. Ordrupgaard’s picture can very much be seen as an independent work, but also as a kind of sketch for the monumental figure composition that Monet planned as a counterpart and challenge to Manet’s work.
As a composition the picture has an absorbing effect on the observer. The deep, traditionally conceived perspective draws the eye far down the woodland path, and the cloud formations above attract the gaze. But if we see the picture as a preliminary to the large figure composition, we rather notice its scenic character, and can imagine how Monet could have placed his figures in the forest clearing in the right of the picture – it seems as though the picture is a magnificent backdrop for a salon picture where the story is missing.
Monet was one of the pioneers in the exploration of the Impressionist method of painting. It was thus one of his works that gave the style its name. Crucial to his work is the repeated insistence on painting light, air and water.
Motifs: Landscapes around the Seine, people in natural surroundings, pictures of the modern cities Paris and London, series of selected motifs viewed in different lights, for example the Cathedral in Rouen and haystacks on a field, pictures from his garden in Giverny – of water-lilies, among other things.
Read more about Monet at the Musée d’Orsay’s website.