It's snowing this morning here in north/central New Jersey and the conversations of staff and the few patrons who have braved the weather to come to the library are about road conditions, school closings, the forecast and the general nuisance factor of the snow. All the practical consequences of the weather preoccupy us, but artists see the world differently, they say. Here is Monet's snowscene, The Magpie, to prove the point. His interest was the quality of the light and the shadows, certainly not whether the hardware store was out of snowshovels and salt. Did he take his easel outside to paint this (en plein air?) Did he shovel a spot to create an instant outside studio? Were his boots warm enough? It doesn't matter now. Monet saw beauty where we see traffic jams and backaches.
The Magpie, owned by the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, is described on the museums website.
"This painting of a place in the countryside near Etretat, executed on the spot, uses very unusual pale, luminous colours, a fact highlighted by the critic Felix Fénéon: "[The public] accustomed to the tarry sauces cooked up by the chefs of art schools and academies, was flabbergasted by this pale painting." The novelty and daring of Monet's approach, which was more about perception than description, explain the painting's rejection by the jury of the 1869 salon."
Searching the BHPL catalog for Monet as the subject turns up 25 titles of DVD's, children's books and art books. Take a look at:
Linnea in Monet's Garden, the children's book by Christina Bjork or the DVD
Monet's Table, the cooking journals of Claude Monet to see his beautiful house in Giverny with a kitchen and dining room to envy.
Monet's Water Lilies by Vivian Russell, the paintings of his water garden or visit the newly restored paintings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York city.
Post Script: the blog's amazing hit counter tells us that this post gets lots of hits from Google searches, which I thought was odd. Why all the interest in this painting? My theory is that people are really looking for a website called Money Magpie which is a personal finance site. If you stumble upon this post, let me know how and why you got here. If the comment process is too difficult, email the Reference Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. thanks. October 7, 2009