Get inspired this summer by learning more about history’s iconic paintings of this sun-soaked season. If one painting captures your imagination, visit the suggested online sources to learn about these paintings from the convenience of your home.
“Poppy Field,” by Claude Monet (1873) – This painting was first shown at the 1874 Impressionist exhibition held in a photographer’s studio. It captures the Argenteuil region of France, located just over 7 miles from Paris. Today it is a suburb, but when Monet captured the area in 1873, it boasted waist-high fields of lush poppies and a horizon populated by dark green, rustling trees. You can view the painting and learn more at Google Arts & Culture. Learn a simplified technique for recreating this painting as a beginner by watching “Monet Series: Poppy Field (simplified) Easy painting for First-time painters,” posted by Paint with Lovejoy. You can learn more about Monet’s general technique by watching, “Beyond the Surface | Discovering Monet,” posted by The Art Institute of Chicago.
“Second Story Sunlight,” by Edward Hopper (1960) – A primary example of Hopper’s mastery of light, this painting is a testament to those special qualities of the summer’s evening rays and long, harsh shadows. It shows a young woman and an old woman sitting on a second-story porch, looking off to the street with a sense of longing and isolation as if they are dreaming of escape from the tiresome summer heat that keeps one at home. View a high quality image of the painting at whitney.org and take a deep dive into Hopper’s sunny yet somber paintings by watching “Art Talk—Edward Hopper: Sunlight and Solitude,” posted by Maynard Public Library.
“The Harvesters,” Pieter Bruegel (1565) – This painting is part of a series of six paintings that capture different times of the year. In “The Harvesters” you will be transported to the towering wheat fields of midsummer Netherlands where there are peasants laboring. It is claimed that this painting is one of the first modern landscapes of Western art, but it also captures a rare sense of humanism and affection toward the people that populate the vast fields. View and learn more about this painting at metmuseum.org, or watch “The Harvesters (1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder,” posted by BBC Radio 4 on YouTube.
“To a Summer’s Day,” by Bridget Riley (1980) – In this captivating acrylic painting, violet, pink, ochre and blue come together in a series of rhythmic waves for a dreamy visual effect that captures the atmosphere of summer instead of a specific landscape. Riley’s earliest works were done in black and white, but here she experiments with the complex visual effects one can create with tone. View the painting at Tate.org and learn more about Riley’s innovations and philosophies by watching “Bridget Riley: The Art of Perception,” posted by HENI Talks on YouTube.
“The Boating Party,” by Mary Cassatt (1893) – Painted at the age of 49, it is with this painting that Cassatt branched off from her usual interior and garden paintings. Depicted are a woman and child who are gazing across the row boat at the man who is rowing. It is known for its unusual and simplified colors inspired by the intense light and saturated colors of the French Mediterranean town of Antibes. View the painting and learn more at NGA.gov, or learn more about Cassatt by watching “Know the Artist: Mary Cassatt,” posted by Several Circles Art History on YouTube.
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