OIL PAINTING: Yachts at Argenteuil, 1875
Monet probably painted this fresh, airy afternoon scene ( Yachts at Argenteuil ) outdoors, en plein air. Monet often painted outdoors, then carefully reworked the details of his canvases in his studio. "My only merit," Monet wrote later in life, "lies in having painted directly in front of nature, seeking to render my impressions before the most fleeting moments." This is one of seventy-five oil paintings Monet painted of the Seine River in Argenteuil, a yachting center west of Paris. It combines two favorite Impressionist themes
: fashionable, leisurely figures strolling, boating, and bathing, and an industrial backdrop of bridge and smokestack. Monet lived and painted in Argenteuil for several years; today the town is best known for his images of it. Additionally, Monet lured his Impressionist friends - Renoir
, Sisley, Pissarro, Manet, and Caillebotte - to paint in Argenteuil, which was easily accessible from Paris by railroad.