Invention of a landscape: the Seine Valley
oil on canvas
60.0 x 81.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1937
Monet found the Seine Valley an ideal place to work and live. In December 1871 he settled with his family in Argenteuil, a semi-rural, partly industrialised area eleven kilometres by rail from Paris. Argenteuil was a haven for pleasure seekers, especially boaters who, like Monet, enjoyed the vast and serpentine river and the richly varied towns and landscapes along its banks. Monet remained there for the next six years, recording the bustling river life and pastoral surrounds. Removed from Paris, he began to refine his painting style.
By the winter of 1878 industry was expanding steadily in Argenteuil, Monet was under great financial pressure and he craved new motifs to paint. He left Argenteuil, but stayed on the Seine, moving fifty kilometres west to Vétheuil, a small rural village that was far quieter and had more rustic charm.
At the same time as being captivated by the broad landscape, Monet enjoyed the creativity of gardening around his homes. In Vétheuil he employed a gardener for the first time to tend his small grounds, establishing a pattern that would reach a crescendo in Giverny.
In the 1870s, the city as a subject lost much of its appeal for Monet. Instead, he immersed himself and his art in nature and focused more on capturing the light and atmosphere of the countryside.