autumn effect at argenteuil
Monet painted this composition from his bateau atelier, a small boat that he had outfitted for use as a studio from 1872. In this way, he was able to paint outdoors while being protected from the elements. His brush marks in this work are extremely varied but this was not an especially quickly executed painting; it is much ‘tighter’ and more fully worked than the sketchy canvases of Monet’s later career.
This is one of the first pictures in which Monet completely rejects black paint: there are no firm outlines, and the shapes are created from patches of colour alone, which would become a hallmark of Impressionist painting. Look closely at the trees on the right hand side of the canvas: you will notice a number of diagonal lines scratched into the surface of the paint, revealing the light grey priming underneath. Is this damage? This seems unlikely. Rather, Monet used the handle of his brush to scratch into the paint once it was dry, cutting through the density of the paint layers to add variations in texture.