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July 15 Art Minute: Claude Monet, Antibes Seen from La Salis

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926), Antibes Seen from La Salis. Oil on canvas, 1888. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1929.51

The shimmering light of mid-afternoon infuses Claude Monet’s painting of the old fortified coastal town of Antibes in the south of France. Monet traveled there in January of 1888 and was dazzled by the light and the striking scenery of the legendary Côte d’Azur (Azure Coast). However, he sometimes struggled with how to represent it on canvas, writing to his friend the sculptor Auguste Rodin, “I’m fencing and wrestling with the sun. And what a sun it is! In order to paint here one would need gold and precious stones.” 

Monet chose to paint this view from the vantage point of the Garden of La Salis looking across the water to Antibes. He positioned himself at the bottom of the garden, close to the water. A large, twisting olive tree dominates the composition, and Antibes sparkles in the distance. His efforts to express the light and color of the Mediterranean fulfilled a promise to his companion, Alice Hoschedé, that what he would paint in Antibes would be “sweetness itself, white, pink, blue, all of it enveloped in this fairy-tale-like air.” 

This work is currently on view in Gallery 35.