San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk

San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk
Artist Claude Monet
Year 1908-1912
Medium Oil on canvas
Location National Museum Cardiff of Cardiff, Wales
Dimensions 25.7 in × 36.4 in
65.2 cm × 92.4 cm
Famous Paintings by Claude Monet
Impression, Sunrise
The Magpie
Woman with a Parasol
San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk
Women in the Garden
Snow at Argenteuil
Beach in Pourville
Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies
Garden at Sainte-Adresse

Oscar-Claude Monet, born in Paris, France, was the founder of the French Impressionist movement in art. The philosophy of impressionism is based on expressing one’s perceptions or impressions of subject matter as opposed to mechanical, linear depictions. Monet believed in the strength of observation, and painting colors observed, not the physical being. He would give his subjects the exact colors that were seen, until the shape appeared. The changing natural light on subjects was of utmost importance, and Monet was a master of capturing the effects that lighting had on his subject matter.

Conception of the Painting

Monet’s impressionist painting, which is also entitled Venice at Dusk or San Giorgio Maggiore al Crepuscolo, is one of Monet’s most famous paintings, which he almost did not create. At age 68, Monet and his wife were invited to stay in Venice. While reluctant to paint the subjects which had been painted so many times by other artists, he had not intended to create any paintings while staying in Venice. When he arrived, he became entranced with the sights in Venice. He sent for his painting materials, and in October, 1908, began painting a series of preliminary works, one of which was San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk. Monet considered these Venice scenes as trials, and souvenirs for himself, which he completed much later in his studio in France. Little did he know that they would become world renowned at a later time.

Characteristics

San Giorgio Maggiore is a sanctuary and monastery off of the Italian coast. Monet’s depiction of San Giorgio Maggiore is all about the effects of light. He uses small, thin brush strokes, with an emphasis on the accurate depiction of how light changes the qualities of the subject, and movement in the water, using unusual visual angles. Monet painted a series of the subject, capturing various angles, and lighting effects during the day’s progression. Monet emphasized capturing the moment, with sunlight effects, and the overall visual effect, instead of details. Monet disliked the sun setting, because with the sunset, colors began to disappear.

Monet did not use black paint after 1886, and he also refused to use browns or earthtone paints. He used white, yellow, vermillion, blue, and green, and would often mix colors directly on the painting canvas. He built textures through the stroke of his brush, using tiny dabs of light color to add contour and definition. He worked from dark to light colors, and shadows always had color. Contrasting primary colors with their complimentary colors make his paintings look their brightest. Monet’s San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk is not a depiction of the monastery, but a painting of the colors of that time of day. With beautiful shades of yellow, orange, purple and red, blended to show a setting sun on the water, the building depicted could be anything, and the setting anywhere. The painting depicts a time, mood, and perception of one great artist, Claude Monet.

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