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A Stormy Sea was painted at Fécamp, an active fishing port with sights to see and noted cliffs, all of which Monet painted at various points. In this instance, he chose to focus solely on the sea and the sky. What caught his attention were the specifics of the conditions - a bright and breezy spring day, with scudding clouds and wind-whipped wave tops. Some areas of the sea are shadowed by clouds, while others are lit emerald by shifting sunlight, and the roiling waves tumble over each other onto the beach.
The varied and lively brushwork to capture all this is extremely rapid, and could have taken no more than 40 minutes to lay down. Monet’s usual practice was to work out-of-doors and to finish in the studio, but in this instance, it appears the entire painting was laid energetically in one fell swoop, a testament to Monet’s excitement in the face of bright, invigorating conditions.