Beyond Rembrandt came the further expansion of an individualist approach from the classic oil painting ‘structure’. In the 19th Century, these ‘great artists’ stepped away from the detailed, commissioned-based forum and branched out to incorporate their own unique style. Artist such as Manet, Monet, and Renoir, known as Impressionist, created their own by focusing on their own desires and inspirations. A prevalent theme within these artists was the use of nature as their subject rather than humans. The use of nature pressed away from the material and realistic template towards ethereal and abstract characteristics.
Monet, a 19th Century French painter, epitomized the use of nature as his main subject and eventually became a leader in the impressionist movement due to his defined method. Particularly towards the end of his life, Monet settled in Giverny where he built a small pond on his property and eventually became part of a series of painting, solely focusing on the water lilies. Monet distinguished his style from his earlier work and his key intent was to capture a single moment with slight variations, specifically with sunlight and weather.
Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond focuses on the lily pond and the Japanese style bridge. The colors and brushstrokes are the main features that establish Monet’s artistic style. Monet refused to draw his works, but rather began with directly using colors to form the basis of his works. The main color tone is cool with the heavy use of green and blue. The slightest changes in color allow the details to shine through. The hint of white and pink water lilies spring out from the pond and the bridge is given a clear structure to that of the surrounding background. Furthermore, the variations of green create lights and shadows, showing the direction of the sunlight.
The blurred, fluid, and rapid brushstrokes in this painting is also a key feature of Monet’s work and the impressionist era, distinguishing it from the earlier oil paintings where the brushstrokes are precise. Upon close inspection of the painting, the brushstrokes and colors are not uniformed, but when viewing the image as a whole, the colors and brushstrokes swirl together to give the painting a holistic appearance. To Monet, capturing the entire image was more essential than the depicting all of the intricate details. Throughout the painting, the visible rough texture also connects the painting together. Monet worked outside in order to capture a single moment in nature, but due to the natural progression of sunlight and nature Monet was forced to continually change the colors, causing layers of paint and the coarse texture. Finally, the lack of movement from the water and the trees leaves an impression of a calm stillness encircling the water lily pond. Monet’s mixture of colors and direction of the brushstrokes pushed the visual imagery of the pond the sensual feeling encompassing the pond.
"For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value." – Claude Monet