Monet: Impression Sunrise – Dawning of a Brand-New Day, NGA

Monet Sunrise
Monet Sunrise

Claude Monet: Impression, Soleil levant 1872, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France Gift of Victorine and Eugène Donop de Monchy, 1940

The exhibition entitled Monet: Impression, Sunrise, will be on show 7 June – 1 September, 2019, exclusive to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Australia’s Capital Territory.

Many fleeting moments in time, captured by Impressionist French artist Claude Monet (1840-1926), will be displayed in a new gallery space, especially designed to showcase wondrous works from the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Tickets are Now on Sale


Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Portrait Claude Monet, 1872, oil on canvas, Musée Msarnottan Monet, Paris

It was 1872, when he was 32, that Claude Monet completed his now acclaimed work Soleil levant (Impression Sunrise). The painter’s confrontation, in 1870, with the inspiring works of English painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) on a visit to London, would change his life.

Encountering Turner’s illuminating works, completed decades before was a light bulb moment for the young Monet, ensuring he bridged the gulf between an eighteenth tradition of landscape painting and his own modern age.

Together with his colleague Camille Pissaro (1830-1903), Monet became captivated by Turner’s expressive colourisations, imaginative landscapes and turbulent, often violent marine paintings, which undoubtedly made first and lasting impressions.

Monet 1

Claude Monet, On the Beach at Trouville, 1870–71, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France

The art movement he founded came to be known as Impressionism and today his masterful painting of the sunrise over water is emblematic of his, and its influence, on the evolution of arts and culture in our time.

Alongside Monet’s masterpieces will be key paintings by JMW Turner himself, American giant James McNeill Whistler, British born French dwelling artist Alfred Sisley, and the so-called ‘King of the Skies’ French artist Eugène Boudin, among others.

Alfred Sisley, Spring in the Environs of Paris, Apple Blossom, 1879 Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France

Alfred Sisley, Spring in the Environs of Paris, Apple Blossom, 1879, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France

In France during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century the leaders of the enlightenment salon at the heart of French society, had finally broken free from the stultifying atmosphere of the court, seeking to find causes to champion and subjects to honour, through the rapid expansion of a gentler sophisticated bourgeoisie.

Art theorist Charles Blanc wrote  about the art of his time, they did “not simply to give relief to the forms, but to correspond to the sentiment the painter wishes to express, conforming to the conventions of a moral beauty as much as to the laws of natural truth.”

Camille Pissarro, L'hermitage at Pontoise, 1867, oil on canvas, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser, 1978

Camille Pissarro, L’hermitage at Pontoise, 1867, oil on canvas, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser, 1978

They wanted to serve a greater human need, for a life where such qualities as good sense and a good heart became as important as the search for freedom. Imagery began to convey messages of a world in which an amalgamation of body, spirit, harmony, reason, order and contentment, seemingly came together.

Portrait of Claude Monet, c.1875 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Portrait of Claude Monet, c.1875 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

By the second half of the nineteenth century, painters Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) began heightening our sensibilities and awakening our interest in colour, light and movement, by allowing us to ‘gain an intense consciousness of being’.  Their works contain not only subtle nuances of light and shade, but also offer the viewer a lasting impression of the warmth and gentle grace of a summer day.

Art is the visible expression of something profound and invisible: in whatever medium is used and whatever forms it takes, it is shaped by the culture and age that produced it.’

My generation in the 60’s and 70’s fell in love with the whole look and feel of the works by Claude Monet, his talented colleagues and their so-called French ‘impressionist’ art works. They represented ‘new hope’ following on from the horrendous loss of life during two world wars and the worst economic depression in western democracy’s short history.

Renoir Boating Party

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Luncheon of the Boating Party, oil on canvas, The Phillips Collection

They revealed how through a vibration of light and the wholesome joy of encountering refreshing country air first hand, you could once again enjoy feeling alive and touch base with the promise of a future yet to be made.

They inspired many Australians particularly, to explore the beauty and bountiful nature of the French Countryside from the many beaches along the Mediterranean to the island and mainland commune of Mont St Michel in Normandy, stopping in Provence along the way.

Boudin Eretrat

Eugene Boudin: Washerwomen on the Beach of Etretat, 1894, oil on wood, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection, courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, U.S.A.

The Impressionist painters had been completely enraptured with gradations of light.

Their works had so much to offer a viewer; they formed a platform for what peace really could be all about; lazy days, love in the afternoon and joy-filled encounters of the meaningful kind.

Claude Monet had been encouraged by his friend Eugene Boudin to work ‘en plein air’.


Claude Monet, (1840-1926), Autumn Effect at Argenteuil, 1873, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

‘It was Boudin’, said Monet, ‘who initiated me’. He revealed me to myself and started me on the right path’ and from then on he spent ‘… his life expressing his own instinctive way of seeing’…

Always responsive to the changes of seasons, Monet recorded the autumnal colour of trees, with the local colours of red, orange and yellow in an intense study of the glow of foliage, not only bright in itself, but observed in bright sunlight.

Monet The Magpie

Claude Monet: The Magpie, 1868-1869, oil on canvas, Musée d’Oersay

He celebrated the real art of gardening in the creation of his now world-famous garden at Giverny in Normandy, where from its springtime apple blossoms, to the early snow, which is rare, beguiled by the whole experience of the countryside being transformed it into a crystalline kingdom.

Normandy’s colours are all featured in Claude Monet’s impressionist’s palette; the misty greens of the wheat fields in the mornings; the blush pink and creamy white of the apple blossoms in the afternoon; the soft mottled blues, mauves and lavenders at dawn, as well as the shimmering golden haze over an orchard at sunset in the autumn.’

Detail Monet- Parc Monceau

Claude Monet: The Parc Monceau, 1878, oil on canvas, The Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ittleson Jr. Purchase Fund, 1959, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Added to that is a pale iridescent sky providing a tableau one, which enchants on viewing, lingering forever in the memory because of its striking contrasts, great diversity and bags of style.

Claude Monet in his garden, courtesy Elizabeth Murray

Claude Monet in his garden, painted photograph, courtesy Elizabeth Murray

Claude Monet recorded not only his first impressions of a region full of magic light and charm, but also his lasting impressions of the colours of the French landscape, which seduced him, holding him captive for the rest of his natural life.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019

Monet: Impression, Sunrise,

7 June – 1 September, 2019,

National Gallery of Australia

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