Haystack at Giverny

Claude Monet

Keywords: HaystackGiverny

Work Overview

Haystack at Giverny
Claude Monet
Date: 1886
Style: Impressionism
Genre: landscape
Media: oil, canvas
Dimensions: 61 x 81 cm
Location: Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Most of the second half of Monet's life was spent in and around Giverny, where the leader of the Impressionists was particularly drawn by the landscape of central France. He captured views of Giverny in numerous canvases. A year before he painted this work in 1886, Monet had already shown a field of poppies , but without the haystack. The Hermitage work is one of the first of his paintings to show the haystack, which was to be the subject of whole series of works.

Monet in virtuoso style captures the fine nuances of effects of light and air, picking the very moment at which the weather is changing and the horizon brightening on an overcast, windy day. The Impressionists painted such overcast weather with bright, light colours, which enabled them to capture the translucent sky and bring out the endlessly rich nuances of colour.

As the morning progressed and the light changed he would switch to sequentially later canvas settings, sometimes working on as many as ten or twelve paintings a day, each one depicting a slightly different aspect of light.[22] The process would be repeated over the course of days, weeks, or months, depending on the weather and the progress of the paintings until they were completed. As the seasons changed the process was renewed.

Certain effects of light only last for a few minutes, thus the canvases documenting such ephemera received attention for no more than a few minutes a day.[23] Further complicating matters, the light of subsequent sunrises, for example, could alter substantially and would require separate canvases within the series.[24] Subsequently, different hues are evident in each painting, and in each work, color is used to describe not only direct but reflected light. At differing times of day and in various seasons stacks absorb the light from diverse parts of the color spectrum. As a result, the residual light that is reflected off of the stacks is seen as ever-changing, and manifests in distinctive coloring.[25]

Many notable painters have been influenced by this particular series including Les Fauves, Derain, and Vlaminck.[26] Kandinsky's memoirs refer to the series: “What suddenly became clear to me was the unsuspected power of the palette, which I had not understood before and which surpassed my wildest dreams.”