Terrace at Sainte Adresse by Monet

Terrace at Sainte Adresse by Monet

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Terrace at Sainte Adresse
By Monet

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Terrace at Sainte Adresse

Oil on canvas, 1867

Terrace at Sainte Adresse by Monet expresses all the euphoria of a fine summer's day. The red of the gladioli contrasts with the blue of the sea, specked with sailing boats, and in the distance are silhouetted the big streamers making for the harbour at Le Havre.

Four people are relaxing on the terrace. In the foreground are Adolphe Monet and his half-sister, both seen from the back; they are sitting in garden chairs contemplating the scene stretching out before them.

By the balustrade stands Claude's cousin Jeanne Lecadre, wearing a pale-colored dress and chatting to a young man in a top hat. Peace and beauty reign supreme, reflecting the holiday mood prevailing in Sainte Adresse.

The carefree atmosphere of Terrace at Sainte Adresse, which lay forgotten for years in the collection of an American cleric called Theodore Pitcairn, is in singular contrast to the facts of Monet's situation as we know them.

Only a few weeks before, on 8 August 1867, Camille had given birth to a son, in circumstances of extreme poverty. Monet showed a remarkable ability to distance himself from his problems when he wrote to Bazille: "Everything is fine here, work and family; were it not for the birth I should be the happiest man alive".

Certainly the extended stay at Le Havre and Sainte Adresse proved immensely productive as far as work was concerned. In the very first letter he wrote, in June, he spoke of twenty canvases under way, including the Terrace at Sainte Adresse painting.

There was one small cloud on the horizon: he had trouble with his eyes and was forced to stop work for a few days. In the event it proved no more than a trivial upset, but later in 1908 Monet's sight began to deteriorate, and in 1923 he was operated on to remove cataracts in both eyes.

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