The Four Trees, 1891
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Oil on canvas; 32 1/4 x 32 1/8 in. (81.9 x 81.6 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.110)
Monet settled in Giverny, about forty-five miles northwest of Paris, in 1883. Although he took frequent trips, venturing as far as London and Venice, it was the landscape within a two-mile radius of his home that captured his attention for the rest of his life. With his famous Haystacks pictures, begun in 1890, Monet began to paint in series, often working on several canvases at once in order to capture the scene in changing light and weather conditions.
During the summer and fall of 1891, he painted a series of canvases depicting the poplars along the Epte River, about a mile from his house. Because he did not paint the poplars from the opposite bank but instead from a boat in the middle of the river, we cannot see the tops of the four trees nearest us—only the vertical lines of their slender trunks. Furthermore, were it not for the horizontal of the riverbank, the tree trunks would be indistinguishable from their reflection in the water.