Monet of the Day: The Pointe de la Heve at Low Tide, 1865

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Tue, 02/27/2007 - 23:45.

Claude Monet is now perhaps the world's most famous Impressionist, but at the age of 24 he positioned himself  firmly in the realist tradition with this painting,  his first work accepted at the  Salon.  The Salon was the only official venue for artists to exhibit their work in France at this time and the acceptance of two works in 1865 (this and a pendant piece) signaled to the art world that Monet had arrived. The subject is decidedly unglamorous, but the composition and palette make the scene extremely visually interesting. Monet has positioned the viewer directly on the wet sand, vulnerable to the tide at a  strategic point where dramatic diagonals draw him in. Monet's palette is based on careful observation of nature, yet the canvas is divided into four wedges of color. The painting is monumental, 35 1/2 x 59 1/4". It was painted in the studio based on smaller pieces done outdoors.  Monet's teacher and mentor, Eugene Boudin was also a realist, but, when compared with a work by Gustave Courbet, the leading French realist, Monet's daring and desire to move beyond realism is more evident. 


The Stormy Sea (or the Wave)


Pointe de la Heve at Low Tide.jpg64 KB
Courbet wave.small.jpg1.83 KB


    I was under the impression that saving beaches from lateral erosion was a modern issue - too many expensive houses on the beach losing their expensive real estate.  But here we have a record of piles driven into the sand in a (futile) effort to stop the beach migration.   Could there have been another purpose to the groins recorded by Monet?  Zbra, this is down your alley....

aaah the intent of the

aaah the intent of the groyne recorded by Monet.  You see this is why je adore!

i found records of groynes being used for their current purpose as early as 1579


Not unlike a renaissance man or woman, realneo is where the arts and sciences meet, where politics and poetry face off and intermingle. This, too, is why I love realneo. Evelyn's post of Monet leads to discussions of beach groynes or groins. One moment we're throwing up roadblocks ahead of ODOT or discussing the ethics of the Port Authority; the next the conversation turns to painting, poetry or dance. It is so much more organic a way of thinking than the sort of compartmentalized methodology, (that old Cartesian leftover) that we so often employ in today's news gathering.

Thanks for a new perspective on Pointe de la Heve at Low Tide

Thanks to all who posted comments and opened my eyes to a whole new aspect of this painting --  and added a new word to my vocabulary. Wikipedia has an informative page on groynes/groins. I  don't know anything about Monet's thoughts on beach erosion and conservation, though with his life long interest in the coast of Normandy and very long career he would certainly have witness changes in the landscape. Monet also witness the industrialization of France and the advent of modern pollution from steamships, locomotives, factories and the sewage from over crowded cities -- some of which he did record in his paintings.


 Take a look at this vacationer's photo of groynes in Barbados.  Look at the failure of the structures near the shoreline.  Look at the sediment discoloration in the water - tons of sand is suspended in the ocean water and moving down stream.  Look at the oblique angle of the waves to the groynes.  In my opinion, building these structures is wrong from numerous viewpoints. 

By the way, did you know that the Burke Lakefront Airport was originally a dump?  I have a few ideas about the legal status of Burke...