monet in his studio boat


Monet at Vétheuil (22)
The Church
The Church of Notre Dame appears in no less than 60 works that Monet made in and around Vétheuil. Normally it is somewhere in the background, but not on these two paintings. Monet must have moored his “bateau atelier” (studio boat) close to the river bank.
The gazebo in the top painting is still there, as you can see at the bottom. 

Claude Monet, L'église de Vétheuil, hiver (The Church at Vétheuil, Winter), 1879. Oil on canvas, 65 x 50. Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Claude Monet, Effet de beige à Vétheuil (The Church at Vétheuil, Snow), 1879. Oil on canvas, 53 x 71 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris


Monet at Vétheuil (41)
Inspiring frost
The winter of 1879-80 was the most severe ever recorded in France. The Seine rose and flooded the banks, including the landing dock Monet used to launch his studio boat. Enormous blocks of ice floated down the river and when the temperature dropped to minus 25 degrees centigrade on 10 December, the river froze solid.
Monet must have been fascinated by the climatic phenomena. He started working outdoors again, braving deep snow and biting cold to depict the unique appearance of the frozen river.

These two particular works show a small arm of the Seine downstream of Vétheuil.

Claude Monet, Le givre, temps gris (Frost, Grey Weather), 1879. Oil on canvas, 60 x 80. Museu de Montserrat, Montserrat, Spain
Claude Monet, Le givre (Frost), 1879. Oil on vanvas, 61 x 100 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris


Monet at Vétheuil (61)
A view on Monet’s house
I hope I’ll catch a good glimpse of all this and more, when I will be visiting Vétheuil, Giverny and the broader region a couple of months from now… 

No doubt, Monet painted this scene from his studio boat. The Vétheuil bank is on the left, making a curve towards the spot where Monet moored his boats.  On the right lies an island, the Île Robin. In between is the small arm of the Seine.
The house where the Monets and Hoschedés were living, is right below the house with the two turrets (“Les Tourelles”). Monet’s garden lay across the street before his house and descended towards the river, as did the dirt road left of the garden.
Not too much has changed since, as we can see in the 2001 picture below. Monet’s home is still there (the yellow house), The house behind it is visibly lower and lost its turrets. The dirt road is hardened and is now called the Rue Claude Monet. Unfortunately, a house was built in Monet’s garden.

Claude Monet, L'entrée du petit bras à Vétheuil (The Small Arm of the Seine at Vétheuil), 1880. Oil on canvas, 68 x 90 cm. Private collection
Claude Monet, Vue deVétheuil (View of Vétheuil), 1880. Oil on canvas, 50 x 76 cm. Private collection
Claude Monet, Vue de Vétheuil en hiver (View of Vétheuil in Winter), 1879. Oil on canvas, 60 x 81 cm. Private collection
David Joel, Monet’s house seen in 2001


Monet at Vétheuil (45)
Sunset impressions
For the inhabitants of the banks of the Seine, the breaking-up of the Seine was a catastrophe, but not for Monet. His studio-boat was only slightly damaged and he found the inspiration for not less than eighteen paintings, some of which could be sold immediately.
But it’s hardly likely that all these works were made on the spot. Some were clearly finished outdoors, like the second in this “Sunset” series.  It is painted very loosely, probably with freezing hands in the heavy frost.
Others were finished indoors, like the third one.

Claude Monet, Coucher de soleil sur la Seine, l'hiver (Sunset on the Seine in Winter), 1880. Oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm. Private collection
Claude Monet, Coucher de soleil à Lavacourt (Sunset at Lavacourt), 1880 (study for the next painting). Oil on canvas, 53 x 80 cm. Private collection
Claude Monet, Soleil couchant sur la Seine à Lavacourt, effet d'hiver (Sunset on the Seine at Lavacourt, Winter), 1880. Oil on canvas, 101,5 x 150 cm. Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, Paris
Claude Monet, Soleil couchant (Sunset), 1880. Oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm. Private collection


Monet and his boat (4)
Eye catching
In these three paintings, Monet uses his studio boat as an eye catcher. People are rowing the boat on the small arm of the Seine that once separated the Île Marante from the  left bank of the Seine near Argenteuil.
It was a favourite location for Monet, Caillebotte and others, but don’t go looking for this spot: where the studio boat in the paintings is softly gliding by, cars are riding on a busy road since 1965, and the island has been transformed into a parc filled with sports accommodations.

Claude Monet, Le bateau-atelier (The Studio Boat), 1875. Oil on canvas, 80 x 100 cm. Private collection
Claude Monet, Le bateau-atelier sur la Seine (The Studio Boat on the Seine), 1875. Oil on canvas, 55 x 74 cm. Private collection
Claude Monet, La barque-atelier (The Studio Boat), 1876. Oil on canvas, 54,5 x 65 cm. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Neuchâtel, Switzerland


Monet and his boat (10)
The Lauvray connection
Maître Pierre-Abel Lauvray was a wealthy notary public, resident of Vétheuil and Monet’s direct neighbour. Lauvray supported Monet with legal advice and the like. In 1880, Monet returned such a favour with a painting of André, Lauvray’s youngest son.
Abel, his eldest son (ten years old at the time), was invited once in a while to accompany Monet on location. As a result, the boy wanted to become a painter himself. Which he did. He took classes and was granted the rare privilege to accompany the master on his studio boat and receive some advice.
In 1893 Monet bought a piece of land behind his original Giverny garden, where he planned the now famous water lily ponds. They needed a connection with the nearby river. When the inhabitants of Giverny protested, Lauvray once more came to the rescue. He intervened successfully on Monet’s behalf with the local authorities.
Monet later gave his studio boat to Abel.

Claude Monet, Portrait de (of) André Lauvray, 1880. Oil on canvas, 46 x 38 cm. Private collection
Claude Monet, Vétheuil, coucher de soleil (Vétheuil at Sunset), 1881. Oil on canvas, 52 x 62 cm. Private collection
Abel Lauvray, Vétheuil vue de Lavacourt (View on Vétheuil from Lavacourt). Oil on canvas, 24,5 x 37 cm. Private collection