View of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (c.1896 – c.1898) by Edgar Degas

View of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme - Edgar Degas - c.1896 - c.1898

Artwork Information

TitleView of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1896 - c.1898
Art MovementImpressionism

About View of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme

The artwork “View of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme” is an oil on canvas painting by Edgar Degas, created circa 1896 to 1898. This piece is an exemplar of the Impressionism art movement, and falls under the genre of cityscape, depicting an urban environment with an aesthetic that captures the essence of light and atmosphere.

The artwork presents a sweeping view of the French town Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. The palette is subdued, with a range of earthy tones complemented by muted greens and blues, encapsulating the transitional light of either early morning or late afternoon. The composition is free-flowing; the brush strokes are loose and gestural, characteristic of the Impressionist desire to convey the immediacy of the scene rather than intricate details.

Degas’ portrayal lacks the precise delineation of architectural features, instead opting for a sense of the overall ambiance of the town. Buildings are hinted at with blocks of color and minimal outlines, suggesting their form rather than detailing their exact structures. The sky, a harmonious backdrop, transitions from a lighter horizon to a deeper, more thoughtful expanse above, suggesting a vastness that towers over the settlement below.

Foregrounded, an array of trees and foliage cluster in patches of darkness and light, adding a textural contrast to the urban elements. This interplay of nature and human construction further emphasizes the Impressionist preoccupation with capturing the transient qualities of light and its effects on the environment.

Overall, this painting by Degas offers a contemplative perspective on the town, inviting the viewer to experience not just the visual splendor of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, but also the ephemeral atmosphere that the Impressionists sought to immortalize in their work.

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