The Mag­pie by Monet

John Mcewen com­ments on The Mag­pie

Country Life Every Week - - My Favourite Painting Kipper Williams -

Monet’s for­ma­tive artis­tic in­flu­ence in Le Havre was the lo­cal painter eu­gène Boudin (1826–98). out­door oil paint­ing was fa­cil­i­tated by the in­ven­tion of the me­tal paint tube and Boudin was an ar­dent ad­vo­cate. their paint­ing trips taught Monet ‘to un­der­stand na­ture’ and learn ‘to love it pas­sion­ately’.

In Paris, where he stud­ied briefly with the aca­demic painter Gleyre, he found fel­low stu­dent en­thu­si­asts for pic­tures of land­scape and daily life in Renoir, Sis­ley and the rich Bazille. Bazille and an aunt aug­mented his in­ad­e­quate al­lowance from home— Monet’s fa­ther, a whole­sale gro­cer, de­plored his son’s ca­reer choice.

the Salon was the key to cre­ative suc­cess, but, as Monet’s artis­tic in­ter­ests were op­posed to con­ven­tion, his sub­mis­sions were rarely ac­cepted. Cri­sis came when Camille Don­cieux, his young model and mis­tress, gave birth to their son Jean. He sur­vived a de­spair­ing jump from a bridge into the Seine.

His first pa­tron, Louis Gaudib­ert, a ship­builder, came to the fam­ily’s res­cue by help­ing with the rent of a cot­tage at etre­tat, near Le Havre. there, Monet painted The Mag­pie, the largest of his snows­capes, a sub­ject rein­tro­duced since 1856 by Gus­tave Courbet, whose rev­o­lu­tion­ary gusto and taste for re­al­ism were an in­spi­ra­tion to the young Im­pres­sion­ists. Courbet and Bazille were Jean’s god­fa­thers.

From etre­tat, Monet wrote to Bazille: ‘I’m very happy, very de­lighted… I go out into the coun­try which is so lovely here that I per­haps find it even more agree­able in win­ter than in sum­mer. And then in the evening, dear fel­low, I come home to my lit­tle cot­tage to find a good fire and a dear lit­tle fam­ily. If only you could see how sweet your god­son is.’

Kip­per Wil­liams is a car­toon­ist. His new book, All in Tents and Por­poises: The Best of Kip­per Wil­liams, was pub­lished at the end of last year

‘ways I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated by the dif­fer­ent artists have de­picted snow. I love the win­ter scenes in Giles car­toon an­nu­als, in which a blan­ket of white serves as a back­drop for his end­lessly in­ven­tive visual jokes. A cen­tury ear­lier, Claude Monet painted The Mag­pie, one of his at­mo­spheric Nor­mandy snows­capes. The scene re­minds me of the ex­cite­ment I used to feel crunch­ing across the field at the back of my Cheshire home the morn­ing after a heavy snow­fall. Monet’s field was hun­dreds of miles away, but the mag­i­cal world he cre­ated child­hood’ whisks me back to my

The Mag­pie, 1868–69, by Claude Monet (1840–1926), 35in by 51in, Musée d’or­say, Paris, France

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