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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:30

Video transcript

I put myself in the position of these figures on this cliff and I almost feel that wind whipping around me and my instability on this cliff as a result I can hear the cloth on my shirt just whipping I think we're ready for the sound effects now not a good idea Monet doesn't need it we have this brilliant summer day we're on a cliff walk in a seaside resort in northwestern France on the English Channel we see these two women it's just as lovely image of people walking on a path in nature well I think the fact that we immediately say I know what this moment is like is indicative of the fact that Monet is doing something that we still do today we go on vacation at the seaside it's lovely to go for a walk along the cliff tops and feel the wind and look out to the sea we're still part of the modern world that he lived in and so there is a real sense of immediacy and that comes across in the brushstrokes so it's his hand moving across the canvas but it's also the wind whipping through the grasses at the top of this cliff and yet all of that is also grounded by these two vertical features that we see of the rocks that mimic the verticality of the figures and look how he's used those cliff faces to create a sense of the brilliance of the day they are in deep shadow the contrast is so sharp it reminds us of when they're sort of the glare from the Sun but even though the painting seems completely spontaneous in fact it was carefully crafted we know from Monet's letters that when he painted these images and he painted about a hundred of them of these scenes of the Normandy coast in the early 1880s he would go back and go back and go back to them 10 15 sometimes even 20 times and so there really are layers of paint and when you get up close you can see those layers there is this conflict between that the spontaneity the momentariness of the scene and the way that he really worked to achieve that effect let's step up let's look really closely at this so sometimes you see areas where the paint is still very fresh remember this is oil it doesn't dry quickly and you can see how he's painting wet paint on top of wet paint so if you paint wet paint over wet you're going to smear the under layer and you can see that if you look especially at the women up on the cliff look at their dresses do you see for instance in the woman that's close to us the way in which there is that white at the bottom of her dress I mean look at the way that the Bell of the dress is pushed up against the back of her legs really giving you a sense of that wind and then The Strokes are actually moving in that direction as well but look at the way in which the white pushes down into the red and pick some of it up so that this is wet paint that is pushing other wet paint across that surface we could see that too in the figure in the background where the white that he's added on top of the red color of the parasol is smearing that red under layer that's right and that is really different from for instance the horizon line you'll notice that there's a cool almost Jade like green but you'll also notice that there are areas where the paint seems to skip over an under layer and that under layer of even paler green was dry and actually had still ridges in it and so when he drew his brush across it it picked up those ridges so this is what paint over dry it's just this incredible knowledge of his materials and what he needs to do with those materials for him to achieve the effect that he wants to achieve well that's right I think he's there for free to really pay attention to what he's seeing this is a painting that's about the pleasure of seeing it's a tourist moment these figures are enjoying their walk along the cliff they are looking out at this lovely picturesque landscape of cliffs and sea and sky and the clouds moving we have the visual pleasure and they're experiencing visual pleasure this is about looking in the modern world a kind of experience of being a middle-class person at their leisure on holiday something that we can all relate to but paint it in a way that brings us in in a wonderfully intimate and direct way so that we feel the wind too