Claude Monet - Windmill at Zaandam 1871

Windmill at Zaandam 1871
Windmill at Zaandam
1871 50x75cm oil/canvas
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

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From Sotheby's:
Monet depicts a windmill known as ‘Het Oosterkattegat’ which stood on the outskirts of the Zuiddijk in Zaandam . Looking north toward the town, the bell tower of the Oosterzijderkerk can be seen in the distance. The Monet family lived in Zaandam for four months over the summer of 1871. Zaandam was famous for its many mills which performed myriad functions: crushing, pumping, sawing and turning every conceivable material. Appropriately ‘Het Oosterkattegat’ was used to grind pigments. Whilst Monet's wife Camille gave French conversation lessons to the wealthy Van der Stadt family, her husband concentrated on his art. Relatively free of financial worries because of a small inheritance from his late father, Monet produced a number of pictures of the town and its environs in a boldly inventive style. Monet wrote to his friend Camille Pissarro on 2nd June: ‘Zaandam is particularly remarkable and there is enough to paint there for a lifetime’, and again on the 17th: ‘It is marvellous for painting here; there is everything you can find de plus amusant. Houses of all colours, hundreds of windmills and ravishing boats […] and with all this very fine weather, so that already I have several canvases on the go’ (quoted in Monet in Holland (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 99).
Monet worked systematically through a series of twenty-five pictures that explored several areas surrounding Zaandam. The artist focused his attention upon the archetypical motifs of the Dutch landscape, canals, mills, and boats. Ronald Pickvance discusses Un Moulin à Zaandam in the context of the other works: ‘There is, however, one painting that is more finished than the others, and also much more deliberately composed. In The Mill ‘Het Oosterkattegat’ [the present work], Monet has carefully plotted his composition, so that the planes succeed each other clearly and recession is marked out for the viewer […]. Monet captures the Dutchness, not merely externally – of fishing boat and windmill, town house and luchthuis, river and canal – but also the delicate enveloping light and atmosphere, subtly different from the Ile de France. The superb manner in which he registers the immense and often changing Dutch skies is sufficient proof of this’ (R. Pickvance in ibid., p. 101).