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Monet's London Pictures

Monet's London pictures demonstrate his ability to convey atmosphere and also show his approach to experimentation with the technical means to portray atmospheric effects. These are part of the "series" method of representing nature, a method that originated in giving attention to more and more specific weather phenomena. In a series, Monet would paint the same subject at different times of day, on subsequent days, with different atmospheric conditions, and so on, and in so doing he would observe and recreate the range of light and a variety of specific atmospheric conditions. Many of the works he painted in London show his dedication to finding a technique that will accomplish this task.

Monet's painting "Waterloo Bridge" from 1903 (now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) is one of a series of paintings along the Thames, and Monet would paint the bridge again in 1902 under different atmospheric conditions. The bridge is seen through a luminescent fog. The mists on the river are of different colors, mixing together to form more an impression of the bridge than a solid image. Beyond the bridge is an even less distinct image of the buildings further down the river. The technique of the painting is evident in a number of other works that Monet painted along the river, notably his "London, Houses of Parliament" (1904) and "Charing Cross Bridge, Smoke in the Fog Impression" (1902). His earlier version of the subject, painted in 1900, shows a much less distinct bridge and a murkier image of the smokestacks beyond. The atmosphere in the painting under discussion is created in a swirl of colors, primarily the purple of the bridge itself and the purples, yellows, and greens of the mists, with one blue and one green sail on the small boat in the foreground.

The painting shows the Impressionist desire to capture a particular moment in all its specificity, recreating the impression left of the light, the contrasts,...

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