In the late 1800s, France was undergoing extensive technological and industrial development, with the railway regarded as a key symbol of her rising modernity.

As well as the railway being a subject matter extensively painted by the Impressionists, Monet was particularly fascinated by the new mode of transport.  On a personal level, the train enabled him to travel easily between his suburban escape in Argenteuil and his hectic life in Paris.

Painted in 1874, Le Train dans la Neige (The train in the snow) captures Monet’s admiration for this relatively recent invention.  Blue and grey tones highlight the cold, frosty nature of the scene as pale yellow hues indicate the winter sun trying to break through clouds.  The factory in the background reiterates France’s technological progress and suggests the blurred figures participate in this new, industrial world.

Thick, billowing smoke not only suggests a calmness to the scene but indicates why Monet was particularly drawn to the image of the train.  Incorporating fog, haze, light and environmental fluctuations onto the canvas was of crucial importance to the Impressionists.  A moving train and its smoke therefore highlighted the continually changing external world and the Impressionist aim to capture these fluctuations.


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