Monet, "Boulevard des Capucines"

1873
Oil on canvas
31 1/4 x 23 1/4 in. (79.4 x 59 cm)
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

(This picture is one of two versions, one of which was shown in the exhibition. The other version is now in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow)


"Monet has frenzied hands that work marvels. But to tell the truth, I never could find the correct optical point from which to look at his Boulevard des Capucines. I think I would have had to cross the street and look at the picture through the windows of the house opposite."
[Jules-Antoine] Castagnary, Le Siecle, 29 April 1874

"The extraordinary animation of the public street, the crowd swarming on the sidewalks, the carriages on the pavement, and the boulevard's trees waving in the dust and light-never has movement's elusive, fugitive, instantaneous quality been captured and fixed in all its tremendous fluidity as it has in this extraordinary, marvelous sketch that Monet has listed as Boulevard des Capucines. At a distance, one hails a masterpiece in this stream of life, this trembling of great shadow and light, sparkling with even darker shadows and brighter lights. But come closer, and it all vanishes. There remains only an indecipherable chaos of palette scrapings. Obviously, this is not the last word in art, nor even of this art. It is necessary to go on and to transform the sketch into a finished work. But what a bugle call for those who listen carefully, how it resounds far into the future!"
Ernest Chesneau , Paris-Journal, 7 May 1874

"Unfortunately, I was imprudent enough to leave him too long in front of the Boulevard des Capucines, by the same painter.

"Ah-ha!" he sneered in Mephistophelian manner. "Is that brilliant enough, now! There's impression, or I don't know what it means. Only, be so good as to tell me what those innumerable black tongue-lickings in the lower part of the picture represent?"

"Why, those are people walking along," l replied.

"Then do I look like that when I'm walking along the boulevard des Capucines? Blood and thunder! So you're making fun of me at last?"

"I assure you, M. Vincent...."

"But those spots were obtained by the same method as that used to imitate marble: a bit here, a bit there, slap-dash, any old way. It's unheard-of, appalling! I'll get a stroke from it, for sure."
Louis Leroy, Le Charivari, 25 April 1874