A Compare/Contrast of Monet’s Grainstack(Sunset) and Van Gogh’s the Sower

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A Compare/Contrast of Monet’s Grainstack(Sunset) and van Gogh’s The Sower

In this essay I will compare and contrast two paintings. The first is Grainstack (Sunset), painted by Claude Monet in 1891. The second is The Sower, which was painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1888. Both paintings were painted around the same time and are very similar in style and subject, but their differences illustrate the change that was happening from the Impressionist to the Post-Impressionist movement. Just beginning with the obvious, both Monet and van Gogh used the same medium, oil on canvas. Both Grainstack and The Sower were paintings of the outdoors around sunset, focusing on the way that the setting sun played with the colors of the environment. They are representational artworks, portraying natural objects in recognizable form, although Monet’s Grainstack is more naturalistic than van Gogh’s Sower. When Monet painted Grainstack, he was experimenting with perceptual color. The idea of the Impressionist movement was to objectively record nature as it was seen by the painter, focusing on the effects of color and light. He painted Grainstack the way he saw it; not the actual color that we know it was, but the colors that the sunset made it appear. Van Gogh, at the beginning of the Post-Impressionist movement, was not merely trying to paint what he saw, but wanted to express emotion in the colors and lines. He was initially drawn to the subject matter by the contrasting colors of the sky and the field, how the contrast of the violet shadows on the field and the yellow sun in the sky almost irritated the eye. Where Monet painted what he saw, van Gogh changed and softened the image so as to portray the emotion in the contrasting colors while still making the painting pleasing to the eye. This became a recurring theme for van Gogh, as can be seen in The Night Café, which he painted very soon after The Sower. In both Grainstack and The Sower, the artists use a technique very



References: Doyle, Marc; Art Movements Timeline; The Art Industri Group <http://www.artmovements.co.uk/home.htm#CHRONOLOGICAL> Van der Wolk, J.; Vincent Van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings; 1990 <http://www.artchive.com/artchive/V/van_gogh/sower_text.jpg.html/ Sayre, Henry; A World of Art; Pearson, Prentice Hall; New Jersey: 2010

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