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Arts Assignment

Monet The Pointe de la Hève at low tide

The Magnificent Painting of Beach Scene near Le Havre by Monet

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Monet’s The Pointe de la Hève at low tide is the magnificent painting of Beach Scene near Le

Havre. It is a thoughtful work. As in the other navies painted in 1864, Monet attempts to translate

pictorially the light effects and changing aspects of the sea - here at low tide. But this painting,

sketched on the spot, benefits from an elaboration workshop, where the characters are added: the

horses, then the cart. The beach workers or the characters gather in the center, in the area of the

foreshore, isolated and seen from behind. Each worker seems to advance according to his own

mode of locomotion, so the painting seems to aim to illustrate literally, from right to left, the

expression "on foot, on horseback, by cart." (Herbert, 1996).


The painting depicts the hard and harassed life of the workers but at the same time Monet shows

that there is a hope of happiness, a hope beyond the harassing work. In the painting it is observed

that a small corner of blue sky opens in the midst of the gray immensity, like a hope beyond the

harassing work, above this cold and wet environment.

The cart

The man in the cart, to the left of the foreshore, at the edge of the waves, raises his whip to

advance the team. As the wheel tracks in the sand, it shows that the cart has already gone the

other way when the sea has come down in the low tide. This is the time when the workers are at

the slack, the prospection is over, and it is time to go back before the sea goes up.

The two horses

To the right of the foreshore, a horseman turns towards the pedestrian who has remained behind;

both carry the bag and the stick of the shell-gatherers. From this one can conclude that it is about

two companions, and that they work in team with the man in the cart, and they come periodically

to complete their work (Levine and Monet, 1994).

Slow or fast

At first glance, the painting reflects a feeling of slowness, difficulty, isolation: the cart seems to

be blocked by the rocks that make it a difficult terrain. The painting shows the two exhausted

horses and the pedestrian advances painfully leaning on his stick. But the reality is the opposite:

Monet shows the snapshot of a perfectly regulated action, a cycle that will be repeated as long as

the tide is low: a fisherman dismounts while the other keeps both mounts. The apparent isolation

hides a team work and the scene in effect is a race against the clock. This painting depicts the

travails of life, humanity subjected to the curse of work and the march towards the blue sky

which is hidden. It depicts the hope of better days ahead. The painting aims more than realistic

representation and picturesque reporting. As its title emphasizes, it is a reflection on the

phenomenon of the tide, in other words on how the landscape is modified according to the time

when it is contemplated (Levine, 1986).


As proof, at the National Gallery, there is a variant of the same landscape at high tide, painted

the same year, almost from the same point of view: the three shellfish gatherers are replaced by

three fishermen on a boat, while on the sea on the left the solitary boat is multiplied into a

flotilla, which glorifies the high seas. This definitely portrays a better time ahead. Thus, at the
age of 25, Monet anticipates his future research on changes in perception according to natural

conditions: tide, seasons and time of day (Levine, 1986).

Low tide

The painting in the context represents that the workers are just at the end of the low tide: the sea,

like the cart, has already turned back. The carter who brandished his whip, the rider who turns to

help the pedestrian is the discreet signs of an emergency: the low tide is advantageous, but very

dangerous for the collectors.

High tide

Monet shows us the low tide, but he shows us, indirectly, the high tide. On the far left, the open

reefs will soon disappear, making the sea navigable. On the right, the two boats stranded at the

top of the beach are out of reach of the waves, the dykes thwart the abrasion, and the house in the

upper right is protected from the highest tides. The high tide is controllable and favorable for

fishermen (Stokes, 2001).

From the sea to the beach

From left to right, from sea to land, the eye in the reading direction crosses five theoretical zones,

each illustrated by a human presence and a natural element. First zone: the open sea which shows

the possibilities of infinite mobility. Second zone: the near shore, place which is still dominated

by the sea but where the rock can pose risks through it its points to the cart and its wheels. The

third zone is that of compromise, where the sea, decomposed into puddles - mixes with the rock -

degenerate into grains of sand. The fourth zone , the beach, parallels the second: the boats are

carriages without wheels, the dikes are streamlined reefs which, instead of pointing
unnecessarily, constitute an effective barrier against the abrasive power of the waves. Finally, the

fifth zone depicts the house on the beach, with its smokestack. On one hand, there is mobility

and risk, and on the other, anchoring and tranquility (Levine, 1985).


The painting, by its rigorous symmetry, illustrates the modalities of the struggle between sea and

sand, whose battlefield is the foreshore. The subject of the painting, the low tide, is the moment

when this conflict is in abeyance: the central zone, buffer zone between the antagonistic forces,

is also a temporary zone: the mixture of opposites - sea and sand, water and earth, human and

animal - is limited in space, but also in duration. It may also be observed that only the central

zone is open to pedestrians: in zone 2, the reefs hinder progression; in zone 4, the dikes are all

barriers to the passage. The painting shows the vicissitudes of nature, but eventually there is a

hope for everyone.


Herbert, Robert L. Monet on the Normandy coast: tourism and painting, 1867-1886. Yale

University Press, 1996.

Levine, Steven Z., and Claude Monet. Monet, Narcissus, and self-reflection: the modernist myth

of the self. University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Levine, Steven Z. "Monet's Series: Repetition, Obsession." October 37 (1986): 65-75.

Stokes, Patricia D. "Variability, constraints, and creativity: Shedding light on Claude Monet."

American Psychologist 56, no. 4 (2001): 355.

Levine, Steven Z. "Seascapes of the sublime: Vernet, Monet, and the Oceanic Feeling." New

Literary History 16, no. 2 (1985): 377-400.