Tag Archives: Gustave Caillebotte

On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris

After several days in Paris, we left for Giverny and Normandy, and we’d go by train as the Impressionists did.

Train in the Countryside, Claude Monet

In the late 1800s trains were changing life for people in and out of Paris. They allowed people living outside the city to come in to work. Weekend trains with double decker cars, as seen in this painting by Monet, took the Impressionists and other Parisians out of the city to relax at restaurants, and popular swimming, boating, and fishing spots.

Trains and train stations show up in a surprising number of their paintings.

The Railway Bridge at Argenteuil, Claude Monet, author photo

They were a part of the modern life that the Impressionists were determined to show. Which is why Musee d’Orsay, a former train station, is so appropriate as a museum for Impressionist art!

 

 

 

It is Gare Saint-Lazare in the northwest part of the city, where many of the Impressionists lived, that shows up in their paintings. Its trains took people to popular recreational sites along the Seine River as it flows northwest from Paris to the Atlantic. Monet would also have taken the train from there to get to and from small towns such as Argenteuil, and eventually Giverny, where he and his family lived.

Both Monet and Gustave Caillebotte painted this station. Caillebotte painted from the large bridge that crossed over the tracks behind the station and was more interested in architectural features of the bridge itself. Caillebotte’s painting, pictured below, is titled Le Pont de L’Europe.

Monet painted the station from many angles in a number of paintings done in 1877. His interest was, as always, the effects of light on his subject, and he even convinced the station supervisor to delay the trains and produce more steam than usual so he could paint these effects. In these paintings steam and smoke billow up in tints of blue and pink and gray to the glass and iron roof of Gare Saint-Lazare. Monet’s painting is titled La Gare Saint-Lazare.

Saint-Lazare is still the main station to travel from Paris to Giverny and on to Rouen and other cities of coastal Normandy, so we arrived at the station early on a Saturday morning.

 

Steam no longer fills the train shed, but people still hurry into the station to catch their trains. Along with many others, we grabbed a croissant and a cup of coffee on our way to the platforms. A babble of voices impatient to begin their journeys surrounds us. We’re ready, too. Now that we’ve seen the paintings, we’re ready to visit Monet’s home and famous gardens. On to Giverny!

Activities

  1. Compare Le Pont De L’Europe by Caillebotte to Le Pont De L’Europe, Gare Saint-Lazare by Monet to see the difference in viewpoint and technique! (Both these are shown above)
  2. Read an enjoyable picture book called, Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains by P.I. Maltbie. It has an author’s note, some reproductions of Monet’s work, and a list of North American museums with his work

Molly is all packed and ready to go!

Are you ready to recieve the next Kathythepicturelady post about our visit to Monet’s beloved gardens at Giverny?

All photos in this post were taken by the author.

 

 

 

Advertisements

On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris

Continuing on our Monet Trail, one morning we took the metro to a more residential area in western Paris. Blue sky and warm sunshine met us as we came up the station steps. As we scuffled through leaves on the sidewalks and picked up smooth mahogany chestnuts, we enjoyed the arrival of fall.

 

The Musee Marmottan Monet is near the Bois de Boulogne, where Degas painted his horse racing scenes, and where other Impressionists sometimes painted people picnicking or strolling beside lakes.

The Picnic, Claude Monet

The Bois de Boulogne was once part of a forest where French kings and nobles hunted. By the time of the Impressionists, it had become a fashionable park that had been part of Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann’s drastic modernization of Paris in the 1850s. This included, not only parks, but broad new boulevards and modern apartment buildings that displaced thousands of poor Parisians to the city’s outskirts.

It’s the Paris we see in Impressionist paintings–Paris from the Louvre by Monet and Le Pont de L’Europe by Caillebotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About this same time Jules Marmottan bought a former hunting lodge on the eastern side of the Bois de Boulogne, and he and his son turned it into a mansion with fine furniture and art. The son left the mansion and its art to the French Academy of Fine Arts, which opened it to the public in 1939.

Musee Marmottan Monet now houses the largest collection of Monet’s paintings in the world, many coming directly from the artist’s family, because Michel Monet, the artist’s second son, left the collection he inherited from his father to the Marmottan. Other works came from the doctor who was the personal physician of many of the Impressionists.

Although it doesn’t have the huge water lily canvases of Musee de L’Orangerie, it does have a number of large water lily paintings, as well works by other Impressionists.

And it hasImpression, Sunrise,

Impression, Sunrise, clause Monet, author photo

 the painting by Monet that gave the movement its name. In it Monet painted a sunrise over Le Havre harbor, showing how the water and the sun’s reflections on it sparkled and changed moment by moment. Sunrise was in the Impressionist’s first exhibit in 1874, and a magazine critic made fun of the paintings, especially Monet’s. The critic titled his article, “Exhibition of the Impressionists,” and the name stuck.

Seeing that painting at the Marmottan , and sitting surrounded by water lily paintings and wandering through the galleries to see other works was a delightful way to prepare us for our visit to Giverny, the inspiration for the water lily paintings that occupied Monet for the last 20 years of his life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From my last post:   Here are the answers to the differences between the subjects preferred by some Impressionists

  • Monet and Pisarro both favored landscapes, but when Monet included people, they were middle class people enjoying a walk or time in a garden. Pissarro painted country scenes, which often showed peasants at work in gardens and fields.
  • Renoir and Degas preferred to paint people, but Renoir liked to paint happy people dancing or  dining at cafes. His women and children are dressed in their best. Degas painted a more work-a-day world of laundresses and poorer girls, who became ballerinas to earn a living.
  • Morisot and Cassatt made moving and beautiful paintings of family members, especially of mothers and children. They may have wished to branch out more, (Cassatt once did paintings of bull fighters), but middle class women led a fairly restricted life at this time. They couldn’t roam Paris or the countryside on their own, as did the men.

Activities

  1. Read about Baron Haussmann and his modernization of Paris. Look at Gustave Caillebotte’s painting, Paris, a Rainy Day and paintings of Paris by other Impressionists to see some of those wide boulevards and iconic apartment buildings
  2. Look at some of Monet’s paintings that include water, one of his favorite subjects. It’s fun to see how he painted reflections in short dashes of color.

Molly enjoyed the cooler autumn weather, too.

Next up, the train trip to Giverny, going through Gare St. Lazare, the same train station that the Impressionists often used, and that Monet painted  a number of times.

Sign up to receive the next Kathythepicturelady post and read about the Impressionists’ love of trains.

All photos in this post were taken by the author.