The ancient walled city of Antibes is a hazy, ethereal presence across the sea in this painting of the Mediterranean coast, in which Monet's smooth brushwork evokes the heat of the morning and the languid stillness of the landscape. At the suggestion of the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, the artist visited Antibes on the Mediterranean Sea from January to April 1888. During the 1880s Monet increasingly explored areas beyond Paris and Normandy in search of fresh, appealing motifs. Sometimes these ventures into new territory were accompanied by doubts and challenges, as in the south, where the brilliant sun troubled Monet. He wrote to his companion and future wife, Alice Hoschedé, from Antibes: "How beautiful it is here, to be sure, but how difficult to paint! I can see what I want to do quite clearly but I'm not there yet. It's so clear and pure in its pinks and blues that the slightest misjudged stroke looks like a smear of dirt."1 Despite Monet's misgivings about his ability to evoke Mediterranean light, in June 1888 the dealer Theo van Gogh, Vincent's brother, bought and exhibited ten paintings that Monet made at Antibes, this work among them. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 72
“Monet is only an eye, but by God what an eye!” exclaimed Paul Cézanne (French, 1840–1926) of his friend and fellow artist. In a career spanning nearly seventy years and 2,000 canvases, Monet turned his powers of observation to the natural world around him. Setting up his easel at various locations across France, he wrestled with winds, hot and cold temperatures, and constantly changing atmospheric conditions in his efforts to capture in paint the effects of weather, sunlight, and the seasons on the landscape.
Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art