The Marmottan-Monet museum in Paris has honored Le Havre’s MuMa – André Malraux modern art museum with the loan of Impression, soleil levant, Claude Monet’s emblematic painting, which will thus return to its city of origin for the duration of an exhibition. It was indeed in Le Havre that the impressionist artist painted his scene of a port enshrouded in the early morning colors in 1872. With the arrival of the railway in 1847, putting the city just a few short hours away from Paris, Le Havre became a choice destination for artists. In their search for new subjects, they found a wonderful source of inspiration here. To the west, there is the seaside resort that emerged with the new trend for bathing, with its beach cabins, bathers, casino and also the ever-changing sight of the sea and the sky. To the east, the industrial port, rigged out with floodgates, cranes and warehouses.
Whether they came upon Le Havre by chance or chose to visit, artists started to arrive from the Romantic period onwards and were sensitive to the city’s multiple facets. In the 19th century, landscape painting was finally recognized as a distinct genre rather than just the backdrop for a historical, mythological or religious scene, and the painters who came to Le Havre found plenty of subjects to study. Practices evolved as techniques and materials changed. Artists moved out of their workshops to work in the field, to experience nature or immerse themselves in modern life, and they were grateful for the lighter equipment at their disposal. Water colors then tubes of paint, and soon after cameras, made it much easier to capture movement, the fleeting and the transient… There was a multitude of new perspectives and new interests to be explored. Subjects suggesting a notion of speed or transformation presented real challenges. And what finer challenge than trying to capture on canvas a landscape in the every-changing light as the sun rises or sets?
The exhibition Impression(s), Soleil has the ambition of recalling this period. It will bring together more than 30 other works that came before or after this masterpiece, but all with the same city and its lights as their subject. Joseph Mallord William Turner, Gustave Le Gray, Eugène Boudin, Raoul Dufy and Félix Vallotton will feature alongside Monet, giving us their unique vision of Le Havre transcended by the effects of light.
To mark the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Le Havre, the exhibition recalls how deeply artists were inspired by the city. It also questions the creative process. How does an artist manage to capture a fleeting moment, reproduce a personal impression or share the emotion felt before a sight that has always fascinated people? How do they portray the poetry of the earth’s dawn? And what of this fascination with holding on to the final flamboyant moments from the time the sun starts to set until it disappears?
Claude Monet’s Impression, soleil levant will be back in Le Havre to mark this occasion, thus going on show at the place that inspired the painting. Visitors will also be able to marvel at impressions of light from around the world depicted by a number of other major artists.
With the exceptional participation of the Marmottan-Monet museum in Paris.
Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, 1872, huile sur toile, 50 × 65 cm, Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet © Bridgeman Images
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Video presentation of the exhibition
(c) MS2K / Amaury Dupas
William Turner, Coucher de soleil sur le port, vers 1832
gouache et aquarelle sur papier, 14 x 19,2 cm, Londres, Tate Gallery © Tate / Tate Images
Eugène Boudin, Étude de ciel sur le bassin d’un port (Le Havre), 1888-1895
huile sur bois, 27 x 41 cm, Le Havre, Musée d’art moderne André Malraux © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Raoul Dufy, Effet de soleil sur l'eau à Sainte-Adresse, 1906
huile sur toile, 65 x 81 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst Copenhague (Danemark) © SMK Foto
Félix Vallotton, Coucher de soleil, brume jaune et gris,1913
huile sur toile, 55,5 x 97 cm, Collection particulière (Suisse)
Les secrets du tableau de Monet "Impression, soleil levant"
Agence France Presse
Avant-Première : Impression Soleil Levant
Connaissance des Arts
MuMa – André Malraux modern art museum
76600 Le Havre