Monet in Zaandam
In 1871, French painter Claude Monet stays in Zaandam for four months. During this period he makes 24 cityscapes and landscapes of Zaandam, and this single portrait, of the 17 year-old Guurtje van de Stadt. The Van de Stadt family are involved in the timber trade and are one of the wealthier families in Zaandam.
Compared to Monet’s other Zaandam works, this black-grey painting is rather subdued. A possible explanation for this is the fact that Guurtje’s father Jan van de Stadt had died quite recently. The black dress, earrings and ribbon would indicate that the girl is still in mourning.
Leading figure of impressionism
Monet is the leading figure of impressionism. The artists of this movement attempt to capture the fleetingness of the moment in their paintings and are occupied with the effects of light, colour and movement. Another characteristic trait is the way they apply the paint in loose, rapid brushstrokes. That is clearly evident here in the light background and Guurtje’s hair. Her face and dress, on the other hand, are painted very precisely.