Autumn Effect at Argenteuil
The village in "Autumn effect at Argenteuil" (1873) is seen from a backwater of the Seine at Argenteuil, looking out over the main stretch of the river. Scratch marks appear in the thick paint layers of the foliage, most prominently on the tree on the right hand side. Claude-Oscar Monet (1840-1926) used a pale grey ground together with an opaque paint layer in the style of Impressionism: a technique devoted to capturing effects of outdoor light. He allowed the irregular texture of the ground to show through; the reflective properties of the ground bouncing light back, and the irregular surface exaggerating the effect by scattering the reflections. He applied layers of paint with a minimal amount of oil binder to reflect light back rapidly, before becoming saturated in colour. By soaking the oil binder, he created the effect of light flickering across the surface of the water. Until the late 1880s, Monet preferred to paint in full midday light, or overcast skies so as to avoid strong shadows and tonal contrasts: his use of light effects promoted a brilliant wall of textures, light and sun. With time Monet's painting increasingly concentrated upon capturing coloured, atmospheric light and reflections.
Monet's palette was simple and fairly limited. The blues are ultramarine or cobalt blue and the cadmium yellows were consistently employed by Monet. viridian and emerald greens were on his palette: strokes of mixed white, viridian, and of orangey ochres added over background blues, to create the autumnal foliage. Vermilion and alizarin crimson were his reds and cobalt violet was added from the 1880s. Monet never used colour straight from the tube but all were mixed with lead white in varying degrees to create a pastel-like reflecting luminosity.