1872; Regatta at Argenteuil; Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Monet was intensely productive at Argenteuil in 1874 but although his output was prolific, he kept wonderfully clear of repetition and seems to have worked in a fever of inspiration in which he went on from strength to strength. He looked at the Seine from every angle, either from the shore or from his studio-boat on the river and found variety in the scenes of regatta the summer offered. Yet the variety was also that of a brush responsive to the changes of weather conditions and the different nuances they imparted to a scene. Some paintings were patterned with a series of restless touches that conveyed the suggestion of squally conditions, but in others---of which this is a brilliant example---he became masterfully broad in handling. Fascinated by the spread of sail in warm, creamy silhouette against blue sky, he made a bold simplification, treating the river and its reflections with equal breadth. It was a constantly practised hand that could sweep in those long foreground strokes so suggestive of the river's long placid ripple.
Renoir, who sometimes painted the same boats as Monet from the same viewpoint, was equally fascinated by their sails and was close to Monet, as represented in this picture, in the exclusion of detail and an almost abstract rendering of light. The two artists working side by side seem to have encouraged one another to feats of brilliance of the most adventurous kind.