Research &

Seven Paintings of
Early Impressionism

Claude Monet: “Houses on the bank of the river Zaan” (1871)

Monet painted the “Houses on the Bank of the River Zaan” rapidly and spontaneously. He did not lay out a detailed composition plan on the canvas before taking his palette in hand, but merely indicated a few points with charcoal. He also experimented with his paints and methods of paint application, departing entirely from the traditional painting technique taught at the academy.


The artist made only a rapid sketch of his compositional idea, consisting of a few points and lines on the primed canvas, before embarking on the painterly execution. An examination of the work’s surface with a stereo microscope reveals a few particles of charcoal between adjacent zones of colour on the house at the centre. No underdrawing can be found for elements such as the house at the right, the trees, human figures and clouds. Monet added these motifs during the painting process.


Monet executed the work with quick, loose brushstrokes. To depict the river in the foreground he painted strips of blue, brown, green and pink next to and one above the other – and left them that way. This work is by no means a sketch, but a finished painting. Nevertheless, the priming, which actually serves as a base for the painting, shows through between the individual strips, forming an additional shade of colour in its own right.

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The exhibition catalogue presents detailed results of the examinations of fifteen works from the Städel Museum collection.

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Monet and the Birth of Impressionism

The exhibition “Monet and the Birth of Impressionism” is devoted to the emergence and early development of Impressionism.

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Digitorial<sup>®</sup> – the multi-media preparation course

Find out everything worth knowing about the art of Monet, Renoir & Co. before the show even begins!

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