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Haystacks (Sunset) – Claude Monet, 1891

Haystacks (Sunset) – Claude Monet, 1891

In Claude Monet’s 1891 painting, Haystacks (Sunset), the subject matter is as simple and pedestrian as the title: a single haystack in an empty field, backlit by the sunset. What makes the work appealing is Monet’s colorful, hazy rendering of the scene. The aspect of the painting that impresses me most is Monet’s use of a wide spectrum of colors and hues. Every color of the rainbow from red all the way through to indigo is utilized in some way. The predominance of floral shades of indigo, lavender, vermilion, and pale yellow inspires a feeling of serenity and bliss. Monet’s decision to compose the body of the haystack with darker hues of red-orange and khaki, and then to outline it with the soft yellows and pinks of the surrounding air creates a glowing effect around the haystack, a kind of halo of light. The haziness of the picture is another very effective element; the dim outlines of buildings and hills in the background, along with the blurry edges of the haystack, the amorphous sea of lavender flowers, and the glowing quality of the light combine to give an impression that the air is full of dust after a long summer day of farming. The haziness could also convey the tiredness one might feel after that long day of working the fields. All of these elements come together to create an immersive and enchanting picture that very accurately portrays the dreamlike feeling of a glorious summer sunset in the country.