Monet painted the canvas painting Poppies in 1873, in plain airin the countryside around Argenteuil. The painter was by now a strong believer in working outdoors, and had persuaded Sisley, Pissarro and Renoir to do the same. Renoir often went to see him in Argenteuil, and the two artists painted together, immersed in nature. A picture by Renoir, Path Leading through Tall Grass (Musee d'Orsay, Paris), also bears witness to the work they did side by side, representing a landscape similar to the one reproduced here.
The painting, shown at the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874, depicts an expanse of meadows and fields lit up by the bright red of the poppies. In his pictures Monet gave no more importance to the figures than to the natural setting, and the ones represented here, two women each accompanied by a child, are not brought into any greater focus than the rest of the painting: blurred and indistinct, they blend into the patches of color and are treated like details of the landscape painting. The figures in the foreground, who are in fact the artist's wife Camille and his son Jean, are easier to make out, while the others, silhouetted against the trees at the edge of the meadow, are visible only on closer examination.
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