For those of you who are interested in the early influences on Monet, before he became an art student in Paris, head up to the 19th–mid 20th Century Painting and Sculpture Gallery on Level 2 (closed Tuesdays) to see two recently hung paintings by Monet’s friend and mentor the plein air artist Eugène Boudin. Boudin invited the teenage Monet to accompany him on painting expeditions around the harbour town of Le Havre, on the Normandy coast, and encouraged him to paint from nature. Monet was to recall in later years that, ‘It was as if a veil suddenly lifted from my eyes and I knew that I could be a painter’. Monet returned numerous times to the coastal area of his childhood to paint the sweeping arc of the shoreline and the battered cliffs. Unlike Boudin’s coastal paintings that were populated with figures, Monet gradually eliminated all figures from his landscapes as he sought to focus on the effects of atmosphere and light.
While you are in this gallery have a look at the painting Portrait of a woman by Monet’s friend Edgar Degas that has also recently been returned to the walls of the NGV.