Although Claude Monet painted "Argenteuil, Late Afternoon" around the same time he painted some of his best-known paintings, it is one of his lesser known works. The 1872 work provides a glimpse into life in Argenteuil, a city in northern France, and it shows how the artist's style evolved.
Biography of Monet
Monet, now one of art history's most famous figures, was born in Paris in 1840 and raised in Le Havre. He showed early artistic leanings, becoming a caricature artist by the time he was 15. Despite his early success, his parents were against him becoming a painter. However, this did not dissuade him, and Monet moved to Paris in 1859 to study painting. After a short stint in the military service from 1860 to 1862, he resumed art studies with renewed vigor. Not only did Monet develop friendships with some of the most important painters of the day, including Auguste Renoir and Édouard Manet, he also became fascinated by how light changes throughout the day. His observations changed the way landscapes were painted.
The town of Argenteuil, the subject of many of Monet's most important works of art, became his home in 1870. He liked the area because it allowed him to observe the interplay of light on the landscape. Many of his artist friends, including Manet and Renior, made their homes there as well. This close contact with other artists inspired his work and allowed him to work side by side with them.
"Argenteuil, Late Afternoon" retains elements of Monet's early works. Although some of this painting shows signs of the short brush strokes that he employed on his more famous Impressionistic works, parts of the painting still have a more reserved quality. However, Monet's signature style quickly emerged during his early years, which is evident in other paintings he produced in 1872 such as "Regate a Argenteuil." The painting that gave Impressionism its name -- "Impression, Sunrise" -- appeared just the following year, but its brush strokes look drastically different from those of "Argenteuil, Late Afternoon."
"Argenteuil, Late Afternoon" is a medium-size oil painting on canvas. It measures 31.9 inches by 23.6 inches. Trees fill the right side of the canvas, and the lake at Argenteuil fills the left. The immense sky, which Monet painted in oranges, blues and golds, takes up about three quarters of the canvas. The town of Argenteuil sits off in the background.