Skip to main content

Guide to Impressionism

Painting quickly

Another factor which changed how artists painted was the innovation of ready-made paint in tubes. Grinding pigments in order to make up oil paint had been a laborious and untidy process. The availability of a wide range of ready-made colours meant that artists could work outdoors, rather than in a studio. They could also work at much greater speed, at moments applying the paint straight from the tube without even using a brush.

Monet, The Beach at Trouville, 1870 

The Beach at Trouville is a small picture, painted by Monet while he was on honeymoon on the Channel coast. He and his wife Camille were on their way to London to escape the Franco-Prussian war.

 Sand in the oil paint, showing that this work was at least partly executed on the beach 

The picture was evidently painted on the beach and not in a studio. Grains of sand and shell have got mixed up in the oil paint.

The immediacy of the painting is also evident in the thick white paint representing the light falling on Camille's skirt, and the shadow falling across her face.

The picture is almost comparable to a family snapshot: an informal recording of a private moment in time, never intended for a public exhibition.