Claude Monet painted The Poppy Field in 1873 on his return from the United Kingdom (in 1871) when he settled in Argenteuil with his family until 1878. It was a time that provided the artist with great fulfillment as a painter, despite the failing health of Camille. Paul Durand-Ruel, Monet’s art dealer, helped support him during this time, where he found great comfort from the picturesque landscapes that surrounded him and provided him with plenty of subject matter from which to choose. It was a time that Monet’s Plein air works would develop, and this particular painting was shown at the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874.
This beautifully depicted summer’s day is captured in all its glory with the vibrant poppies complementing the wispy clouds in a clear blue sky. In the landscape, a mother and child pair in the foreground and another in the background are merely a pretext for drawing the diagonal line that structures the painting. Two separate colour zones are established, one dominated by red, the other by a bluish-green. The young woman with the sunshade and the child in the foreground are probably the artist’s wife, Camille, and their son Jean.
Monet diluted the contours and constructed a colourful rhythm with blobs of paint starting from a sprinkling of poppies; the disproportionately large patches in the foreground indicate the primacy he put on visual impression. A step towards abstraction had been taken.
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