Landscape at Valery-sur-Somme (1854) by Edgar Degas

Landscape at Valery-sur-Somme - Edgar Degas - 1854

Artwork Information

TitleLandscape at Valery-sur-Somme
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Landscape at Valery-sur-Somme

“Landscape at Valery-sur-Somme” is a painting by Edgar Degas, created in 1854. The artwork is an oil on canvas and belongs to the Impressionism movement, a genre characterized by a desire to capture fleeting moments and the effects of light. This landscape piece is part of a private collection. As its title suggests, it portrays a scene from Valery-sur-Somme, and it is a testament to Degas’s early interest in landscape painting.

The artwork presents a serene and muted scene encompassing a countryside vista. The composition features a dynamic sky heavy with clouds that are rendered with a softness typical of the Impressionist style. Gentle hues of yellow and blue dominate the sky, suggesting either the early tones of dawn or the subdued colors of dusk. The foreground is populated with dark, vertically positioned tree trunks that create a screen through which we view the landscape.

These trunks lead to the middle distance where the silhouette of a traditional windmill is discernible, its structure blurred, indicative of the movement of air and life’s transitory nature. The windmill stands adjacent to buildings that have hazy architectural details, further contributing to the atmospheric depth of the scene. A lush green lawn surrounds the structures, hinting at the pastoral and tranquil quality of rural life.

The lower part of the painting appears to present a fenced area, possibly a rudimentary barrier of a farm or a pasture. This lends the artwork a sense of order amidst the gentle chaos of nature’s elements. The palette of the overall landscape is rich yet subdued, featuring streaks and dabs of earthy greens, oranges, and browns that coalesce to form a harmonious natural setting.

By encapsulating the calm and idyllic environment of Valery-sur-Somme through subtle color contrasts and delicate interplays of light, the artwork exemplifies some of the key elements that would later come to symbolize Impressionism, even though it predates the consolidation of the movement. It offers a glimpse into Degas’s artistic journey and his exploration of light and landscape in his early career.

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