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Claude Monet
French, 1840 - 1926

Towing a Boat, Honfleur, 1864
French Painting
Oil on canvas
21 3/4 x 32 5/16 in. (55.2 x 82.1 cm), without frame

Gift of Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson,  91.35

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About the Object

"All that is painted directly, at a given moment, has a force, power, and vitality which can never be duplicated in a studio." --Eugène Boudin, to his student Claude Monet

Claude Monet's early paintings were solidly grounded in the work of the preceding generation of French landscape painters called the Barbizon school. Their insistence on painting en plein air, or out of doors, led to Monet's passion for capturing the transience of light.  

Towing a Boat, Honfleur, painted ten years before the term Impressionism was coined, captures the moment that night overtakes sunset. It is one of the earliest of Monet's many seascapes. As an experiment in reproducing the changing effects of light under different atmospheric conditions, the painting shows his process of abstracting nature into simplified forms and exaggerated color contrasts.

[Label copy from Monet: Vision and Process exhibition, 2018]