Claude Monet
(Paris, 1840-1926, Giverny)
The Dinner, ca. 1868/69
Oil on canvas, 50 x 65 cm
Signed lower left: Claude Monet
Wildenstein 129
Claude Monet, along with Bazille, Renoir and Sisley, all four nearly of the same age, studied in the Atelier Gleyre; they all met there and became friends. Monet had already undertaken large-scale projects such as his "Déjeuner sur l’herbe" and "Women in the garden", and at the Salon of 1866 scored a justified success with his majestic "Camille" (Kunsthalle in Bremen). Nevertheless, like Renoir, he remained dependent for support during the 1860s on his more well-to-do friends Bazille and Sisley. This study of a familiy dinner was probably painted during the winter of 1868-1869 when Monet rented a house at Etretat on the Normandy coast. Although it has traditionally been identified as the Sisley family, there is no basis for this identification. The figures portrayed are most likely Monet’s mistress Camille, with her back to the viewer, and their infant Jean, then aged about a year, with two unidentified friends and a maid who enters at the rear. The sense of warmth and domestic comfort that the painting exudes reflects Monet’s pleasure in family life and his newly found financial security. This spirited sketch sacrifices nothing of the freshness of the visual impression and of the intimacy of family life.