The Houses of Parliament: Sunset

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Monet
In 2005 and 2008, my family and I took two trips to London, England. During our travels, we paid a visit to the Palace of Westminster, located in the center of the city. Through the alleys, down the cobblestone streets and around the corner, there shone the towers, sanctifying the city below. I remember it being touching, even at so young an age. When venturing through Washington's National Gallery of Art, I stumbled upon Monet's The Houses of Parliament, Sunset. In the instant my eyes met its thick oil paints, I knew I would be writing about it. For what does the artist, Monet, intend? Between the dark mysterious interpretation of the buildings and the lonely portrayal of the boat man, it is a clear message of sadness being sent to the viewer. Oscar-Claude Monet, born in Paris in 1840, was one of the fathers of Impressionism, playing a huge role in the development of such art. As a young child, Monet was said to have drawn in his free time, creating witty portraits of his classmates and teachers. Later, upon his encounter with maritime painter Eugène Boudin, Monet realizes that "...a veil had been lifted. [He] ...understood. It had got through to [him] what painting could be" ("Monet" 10). From that point on, the artist gave nothing less than his all, traveling wherever he needed to go to be recognized. In 1899, Monet took a trip to London, England to paint the beautiful Houses of Parliament. Hoping for the smog of coal to affect the clouds of his painting, he made his travels in the winter. Even through the rapidly changing weather throughout the day, Monet managed to create over 100 paintings dedicated to the city (“Houses”). The Houses of Parliament: Sunset premiered at a show in Paris in 1903, two years after his travels began. Today the painting sits on the solid colored walls of the National Gallery of Art, staring blankly into a room of dumbfounded tourists such as our class. Initially, upon my encounter with the painting, my reaction was numb....
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