The Beach at Sainte Adresse

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Claude Monet, The Beach at Sainte-Adresse, 1867.
Oil on canvas, 75.8 × 102.5 cm

Claude Monet is renowned for his achievement as a founder of French impressionist movement. He was one of the most consistent and prolific practitioners of the movement’s philosophy of portraying one’s perception before nature. Paintings produced during this period generally involve certain characteristic that includes techniques such as the use of short brushstrokes and the use of vibrant palette. The Beach at the Sainte-Adresse, an oil painting on canvas that was completed by Monet in 1867, is an exemplary painting of this era. This particular painting is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago as one of the collection; therefore, it is worthwhile to analyze the visual quality of this masterpiece with its relationship to the larger context. The artwork can be best studied through outlining the critical interpretation by looking at the basic elements of visual art moving from general to detail.

The Beach at the Sainte-Adresse is a very serene painting. When the viewer squints the eyes to examine the painting from a distance, the view of this coastal site comes into the sight. This work comprises the basic artistic compositional style with three main sectors: foreground, middle ground and the background. The foreground comes forward as our eye gets drawn to the horizon at a perpendicular line of an acute angle that it makes with the sky, which forms the dome-like shape over our head. The painting is not drawn to a life-sized scale; however, the space feels much larger than it seems. This grand atmosphere is created through different proportion that the artist intentionally creates with composition. The middle ground is narrow with the image of a village fading out at a distance whereas the sky is much liberal with larger area. When the audience takes a step closer to examine the painting, we are able to notice that it renders an image of a shore on a cloudy day. The work...
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