Monet’s Luncheon Paintings
- June 18, 2013
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Monet’s The Luncheon completed in 1868 portrays a family scene set in Étretat in the house of a patron where Monet took refuge from his Parisian creditors and critics. It was around this time that Monet’s life was taking a turn and he was becoming a family man. In the painting we see the table set for an abundant luncheon at noon with Monet’s future wife, Camille, and their son Jean seated at the table. There is a guest standing near the table and a maid peeking through the door in the back of the room. There are toys on the floor, a hat and basket on a chair and a newspaper on the table. There is a chair slightly pulled away from the table that seems to be waiting for the artist to join them.
The painting was submitted to the Paris Salon in 1870 but was met with rejection. The painting’s simple domestic scene was viewed by the Salon as being too radical. Salon paintings of the time depicted portraits and grand themes, not scenes from everyday life. Following this rejection, Monet never again submitted a painting to the Salon. Instead, Monet went on to become the father of Impressionism and exhibited The Luncheon at the first exhibition of the Impressionists in the studio of photographer Nadar in 1874. The critics of the exhibition were fascinated by Monet’s use of “modern light” in the curtains. The Luncheon was met with widespread approval at numerous exhibitions before being purchased for the Städel Museum in 1910.
Monet’s The Luncheon painted around 1873 or 1874, was exhibited in the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876. The painting again gives a glimpse into Monet’s simple family life this time the setting is their first house in Argenteuil during the summer months. The meal has ended but the table has yet to be cleared. There is a hat hanging from a tree branch and a parasol and bag left forgotten on the bench. In the shade near the table we see a young Jean Monet playing quietly stacking blocks and in the background we see Camille strolling through the garden with a guest. The painting is currently held by the Musée d’Orsay, in France.