The despair of painting nature

Claude Monet, 1889


Fresselines, 24 April 1889

I am distressed, almost discouraged, and fatigued to the point of feeling slightly ill. What I am doing is no good, and in spite of your confidence I am very much afraid that my efforts will all lead to nothing. Never have I been so unlucky with the weather. Never three suitable days in succession, so I have to be always making changes, for everything is growing and turning green. And I had dreamt of painting the Creuse just as we saw it!

In short, by dint of changes I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, and then there is the river that shrinks, swells again, green one day, then yellow, sometimes almost dry, and which tomorrow will be a torrent, after the terrible rain that is failing at the moment. In fact, I am very worried. Write to me; I have a great need of comfort, and you will readily understand that Rollinat is not the man to cheer me up. When I tell him of my worries all he can do is to go one better, and besides, while he knows the difficulties of his own art he does not realize what trouble I have to take in order to do what I do: he sees nothing in painting except the strange side of it.

[Maurice Rollinat was a poet, author of ‘Les Névroses'; he was living near Monet at the time, in a cottage on the banks of the Creuse.]

Giverny, 22 June 1890

I have gone back to some things that can't possibly be done: water, with weeds waving at the bottom. It is a wonderful sight, but it drives one crazy to try to paint it. But that is the kind of thing I am always tackling.

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Claude Monet, The ArtistsPortrait of Claude Monet

Claude Monet

Painting nature from a small boat

1840 – 1926

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