Claude Monet: Les glacons

Les glacons: Claude Monet

Les glacons (the Ice Floes) from 1880 is a typical instance of Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s fascination with wintry weather.

The greens of the trees show a life force in nature, and the ice perhaps is contrasting opposite. The distant fog that is shot through with sunlight adds depth to the recession of the trees on either side. The forces of light, fog and wintry cold, and the life of the trees and vegetation, together with show us the processes of degeneration and rebirth.

Monet’s typical Impressionistic avoidance of the restrictions of lines gives free rein to a purely visual experience that refuses or is seen to be incapable of exhaustively ordering the scene. Monet is as much a spectator as we are.

Fog is an apt metaphor for the inconstancy and variability of the seeing perception of the Impressionists. Our eye is drawn here by the receding trees and its centrality near the vanishing point – where the recession converges – to that sole tall tree in the distance, that is as much an atmospheric fog as it is a tree. This alludes to the conundrum of Impressionistic vision: the fact that we perceive objects but perceive them so different from each other and from the objects ‘as they are’.

Claude Monet’s Les glacons (The Ice Floes) is in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, France

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