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Port of Le Havre

Claude Monet, French, 1840 - 1926

Made in France, Europe


Oil on canvas

23 3/4 × 40 1/8 inches (60.3 × 101.9 cm) Framed: 32 5/8 × 48 1/2 × 4 3/8 inches (82.9 × 123.2 × 11.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Mrs. Frank Graham Thomson, 1961

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Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    Claude Monet's view of the busy harbor of Le Havre is one of several paintings that he made when visiting the city in January 1874. Having lived in Le Havre as a child, he was familiar with the port and may have returned over the holidays in search of fresh material for paintings to exhibit with a newly organized group of independent artists. A recognizable view of the outer harbor and its array of sail-, steam-, and oar-powered ships, this painting was not included in the first independent exhibition of 1874. Instead, a less distinct view of the harbor was shown, which Monet titled Impression, Sunrise (Musée Marmottan, Paris); it was this title that led a bemused critic to dub the group the Impressionists. The short, blunt brushstrokes of Philadelphia's harbor painting have a nervous, fleeting quality that evokes the movement of water, boats, and people in the bright afternoon sunlight. Capturing a specific moment was critical to Monet's ambition; a related painting in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art shows an identical view of the harbor, but on a rainy day, when shimmering pools of water dotted the quay. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 68.
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    In 1874, the year in which he painted this canvas, Claude Monet was staying with his family at the Hôtel l'Amirauté in Le Havre, which gave him a good view down into the busy port. It was the same vista that he painted in the fog in Impression: Fog, whose title gave rise to the name that was to be applied to Monet and his fellow independent artists when they exhibited together. Works such as Port of Le Havre have the quality of coming from the dawn of a movement. All of Monet's ideas and gestures expressed in the painting seem completely fresh, uncalculated, and direct, very much in keeping with the animated view out his hotel window that he was recording. Among the nineteen paintings by Monet in the Museum, this is perhaps the most firmly aligned to all of the revolutionary energy and change that marked the early years of Impressionism. Joseph J. Rishel, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 196.