I recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and saw Claude Monet’s La Grenouillère. Both Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, another impressionist painter during the 19th century, painted La Grenouillère (Renoir’s painting is located at a museum in Stockholm, Sweden), yet they depict the scene from different perspectives. As to the location depicted by both painters, La Grenouillère was a resort outside of Paris where the middle and upper class congregated on weekends.
In Monet’s painting, on the bottom left-hand corner, there are two rowboats and on the right-hand side is a large structure with people on it. In the center of the painting is a platform on the water with a group of people and a tree with dark green leaves. Behind the centered tree in the distance are trees in a light green color painted with many quick brushstrokes. In Renoir’s painting, the location is the same, but the elements are positioned differently. On the bottom of the canvas, are a few rowboats, which are cut off and on the right-hand side is the same large structure as seen in Monet’s painting, but the viewer cannot see people on it. The focus of Renoir’s painting is on the platform with people positioned on it. Monet’s painting lacks detail in the people’s faces and bodies, but Renoir’s painting depicts a woman in a white dress next to a man in a black jacket. Even though Monet and Renoir painted the same location, Monet focuses on the nature and the scenery while Renoir focuses on the social scene and presents the people with more detail.
As to the use of lines, in Monet’s painting, the ripples of the water are composed of repetitive strokes, but in Renoir’s painting, the ripples are patchy and do not blend with the other colors. The reflection of the tree in Monet’s painting in the water divides the painting in half and organizes the painting in two sections. The rowboats on the bottom left-hand corner direct the viewer’s eyes toward the center platform and the line of the dock also leads the viewer to the platform. Monet’s formal and organized composition differs from Renoir’s painting, which lacks organization of horizontal and vertical lines.
As the viewer, can you find any more differences between the paintings? Do you think that the paintings were painted during the same time period? Were they painted during the same season? What do you think each artist was trying to convey by painting it? I hope you have fun on this painting scavenger hunt!