Monet of the Day: "A Seascape, Shipping by Moonlight, 1866"

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Fri, 02/23/2007 - 21:42.

    This is not a painting one would readily recognize as a Monet, but it is one of his earliest works. He painted it in 1866 and by this time nocturnes were rare. They had been a staple of baroque and romantic painters but had fallen out of favor by the time Monet decided to take on this subject. It is easy to understand why Monet wanted to paint this scene. He loved boats and here we see examples sailboats and a modern steamship. Monet was fascinated by the effects of light on water and other ephemeral characterisitcs of nature. He must have seen the light; from the moon and the lighthouse, sparkling on the water and reflected in the clouds, as a challenge to capture on his canvas.
    James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the American expatriot painter also painted seascape nocturnes -- they were some of his most abstract and controvsial works.


    Monet only painted a few nocturnes during his long career and this painting is the most dramatic and powerful of those works.

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The use of white underlining the clouds and in wakes and light on the water, with that third ghostly ship centered in the distance - almost takes my breath away thinking about the dangers of traveling along the water in darkness - no GARMIN GPS in those days!  Thanks Evelyn