12/07/2008

Portrait of the week - Woman in the green dress (Camille)


This is the painting Woman in the green dress by the painter Claude Monet, done in 1866. It is also known as Camille.

The painting is one of the Monet's earlier works, and the one that would grant him national fame - though the style of the painting has little to do with impressionism and the technique that would make him famous.

The woman is dressed in a dress striped in green and black, with a train and of a rather light fabric - that looks like silk, but considering the financial situation in which it was painted it is not that likely the original was made in that material. Over the dress she is wearing a jacket with fur trimmings. On her head she is wearing a small hat - just as if she was ready to walk out the door at any moment.

The woman is Camille Doncieux, Monet's first wife. She was born in 1847. She met the painter in 1865 and became the artist's mistress and model. She was from a poor background and Monet's father refused to let them get married for just that reason. In 1867 she gave birth to the son Jean. In 1870 the couple got married anyway. In 1877 she gave birth to the couple's second child, the son Michel. But by now Camille's health was deteriorating, and she died in 1879 - just 32 years old. Her husband had probably started a liaison with the woman that was to become his second wife, Alice Hoschedé, before Camille's death.

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