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In 1865, in the countryside near Paris, Monet worked on
Luncheon on the Grass, a large canvas apparently inspired
by Edouard Manet’s already famous picture of the same
name painted in 1863. This influence is reflected both in the
subject, a picknicking party, and in the huge size (465 x 640 cm),
not altogether characteristic of Monet’s early work.
The size must have been intended to impress the public or,
at any rate, to give prominence to the painting. Interestingly,
the artist chose for his plein-air work Chailly-en-Biere in the
neighbourhood of Barbizon, the cradle of the illustrious
mid-century school of landscape painters.
The fact that the
future Impressionists turned to the same localities for inspiration
can be interpreted as evidence of their link with the French
tradition of landscape painting. Monet was not satisfied with
his finished work and, returning to Paris, he left the canvas in
the custody of his landlord at Chailly as a pledge.