" This is sinister, diabolical, but beautiful and i do not find such a thing elsewhere "
"I am in a wonderfully wild region, with terrifying rocks and a sea of unbelievable colours; I am truly thrilled, even though it is difficult, because I had got used to painting the Channel, and I knew how to go about it, but the Atlantic Ocean is quite different". (Letter from Monet to Gustave Caillebotte).
During the summer of 1886, Claude Monet mentioned his project to undertake a " great tour of Brittany, as a simple tourist, walking stick in hand ". Actually, Brittany was reduced to Belle-île and its " wild cost ".
The correspondence between Belle-ile and Giverny
He arrived on September 12 1886 for 15 days but he did not leave until 75 days later. He worked relentlessly and within 10 weeks had painted no less than 39 canvasses. Nowadays, his paintings are exposed in museums all over the world.
Besides this legacy, the famous painter left an abundance correspondence addressed to his friends, merchants and mostly to his wife stayed in Giverny.
Through constant correspondence, he explained the island lifestyle at the end of the 19th century : His stay in a hostel in Kervilahouen with fishermen, the food, the comfort of that time,the supply difficulties, the erratic climate and the fascinating beauty of the sea.
The impressionist painting
Thanks to the fisherman poly, he discovered " les aguilles de Port-Coton ", " les rochers du Lion " , "Port-goulphar " and " Port-Domois ". The uncompromising wildness of this landscape disconcerted him with its constantly changing weather, the sheer cliffs and dizzying overhangs. The great painter was always looking for new natural landscape devoid of any human activity.
Working from nature was a particular hallmark of the Impressionist movement, and Claude Monet was a key figure of it. He led the way to 20th century modernism by developing a unique style, reflecting in his paintings the ever-changing impact of light and weather conditions.
The beginning of the series ?
This stay was an important step in his working method. Because of the ever-changing light, Monet began to explore the same subject repeatedly (up to 6 times) in what are known today as his series paintings.
By the 1880s, Monet could paint sometimes up to 10 paintings in parallel. He started with The Grainstacks, then The Popular Trees, London :The Houses of Parliament and other subjects, like his garden in Giverny.
Village of painters
The house in Kervilahouen, that still exists nowadays, had a café. The 14 of Septembre 1886, Monet came to this house, looking for a place to stay. He stayed in this « hostel » until November 25, 1886.
Others painters came to Kervilahouen, like Henri Matisse, Constantin Kousnetzoff. Some of them would choose to stay here, like Maurice Halay or Pierre Cadre. Kervilahouen was called «Villages of painters ».