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Nightfall, c. 1865–70. Pastel on gray paper. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes. Gift of the Société des amis du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, 1968
AT THE FIRST IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION in 1874, Monet showed seven pastels alongside his oil paintings. Their identities are not known, but some of the works in this gallery may have been among them. For more than a decade Monet had been using pastel on visits to Normandy to capture the rich colors and dense textures of its fields, cliffs, and skies. Portable and versatile, pastel lent itself to the rapid notation of weather and atmosphere. Surprisingly few of Monet's pastels are directly related to his oil paintings; certain works appear to be experiments in composition, while others tackle a single subject under changing light conditions, anticipating the series paintings of his later years.

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