Monet’s depictions of fields and meadows are among the most impressive landscape paintings in Western Art. Fields traversed by rows of poplars characterize the cultivated flatlands along the Seine not far from Vetheuil and Giverny, a landscape Monet transforms into a paradise for the urbane citizenry of the Parisian metropolis: In his painted scenes, it is not the native country folk, but elegantly dressed ladies with parasols and children in their Sunday-best who relax in the vernal countryside.
The source of inspiration for the exhibition is the painting “Fields in Spring” as well as the hundredth anniversary of its purchase by the Stuttgart Gallery Association in 1906. A work of the year 1887, it marks a turning point in the oeuvre of Claude Monet. The familiar field motif is formulated with new compositional austerity and a systematic approach anticipating the serial works of the early 1890s. Closer inspection of this late field scene sensitizes the viewer to the manner in which landscape had already been subjected to stylization in impressionist works since the early 1870s. What seems at first sight to be a mere impression turns out to be a careful construction of color, space and atmosphere, the light and color effects having been achieved during long and often arduous outdoor sittings. The human figure serving as a source of identification for the viewer in earlier works now becomes a figure paysage, a component of the landscape. And with incomparable skill, Monet transforms that landscape – and its appearance as it changes in the course of the day or the seasons – into a lasting visual experience of unique beauty.
For the first time and only once Monet’s large thematic and atmospheric filed paintings can be seen at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. More than forty loans from prominent private and public collections throughout Europe and overseas will document a wide spectrum of works and guarantee an impressive show.