Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Basic Precept

For the longest time now I'd been meaning to post an image of this Monet painting that I encountered for the first time at The Fogg Museum on the grounds of Harvard University, Cambridge MA in October of this year.

On seeing this painting, which I feel is one of Monet's finest little works, something fundamental occurred to me. Other then being an expression of his influences, namely Eugene Delacroix's romantic large flower paintings and the other impressionists' interpretations like Manet's studies of the Spanish, Dutch and French still life traditions, particularly his copies and emulations of the works of Jean-Siméon Chardin, whom I love - this small unassuming painting illustrates something wonderful.

That is, that on seeing this piece it reenforced in me the basic precept that fundamentally a picture or painting first and foremost should be an expression of its materials! It seems a basic enough idea and quite an obvious one you might say, but there exists so much work out there in the world that does not measure up to this basic need. An oil painting should be 'painted' and an expression of the medium. The subject matter is secondary to this basic idea. This point is clearly stated in any masterpieces which transcend and elevate even the most basic subjects. It's my believe that the statement is made through the way the paint is applied. How the artist understands and uses his chosen medium is of utmost importance.

I believe the evident lack of this basic precept in many works is largely due to the painters misunderstanding and seeming lack of empathy for his primary concern - the stuff of paint itself.

Claude Monet's - Red Mullets, c.1870
Oil on canvas

#monet #eugenedelacroix #chardin #oilpainting #stilllife #impressionism #realism #richardhearns #studio #harvard #thefoggmuseum

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