Claude Monet’s Springtime depicts his first wife, Camille Doncieux, seated serenely beneath a canopy of lilacs. The painting is presently held by the Walters Art Museum.
Camille and Claude Monet were married in 1870, before this time she had been his mistress and served as a model for Monet’s figurative paintings of the 1860s and 1870s. Camille, a beautiful woman, was also used by Auguste Renoir and Édouard Manet. The painting represents an enchanting scene of domestic life, so typical for early Monet’s paintings.
Late in the year 1871, Monet, Camille and their child settled in Argenteuil, a village Northwest of Paris. Argenteuil was a popular resort for urban pleasure-seekers. Colleagues of Monet frequently joined him and the village became associated with Impressionism.
Springtime was on display on a first Impressionist exhibition organized at Durand Ruel’s Paris Gallery, from March 30 to April 30, 1876. Monet exhibited 18 works there, for which 6 of these works Camille had posed. During this exhibition, Springtime was given the more generic title of Woman Reading. But Springtime is much more pleasant, isn’t it?
Camille Monet died on 1789. The second wife of Monet, Alice Hoschedé, ordered to destroy all pictures and mementos from Camille’s life with Monet, therefore, Camille’s image almost solely survives on the basis of Monet’s paintings. Good that there are so many of them.