Katherine loves art history and visits art galleries and museums on a regular basis. She also writes exhibition reviews.
Find out more about Monet's Haystacks Series
Monet's first set of paintings completed as a series were devoted to stacks of wheat in the field next to his home at Giverny.
Find out more about Monet's haystacks series (sometimes called grain stacks) - including links to where you can see them in art galleries and museums.
For an explanation of the differences between haystacks and grain stacks see below.
Why Monet painted stacks of wheat
Exploring light and colour and a symbol of rural French countryside
Monet was obsessed with discovering the colour of light at different times of the day.
He needed static objects to be able to record the same scene in different seasons and at different times of day.
The haystacks in the field near his home provided him with the subject matter to create a series of paintings.
The colour and look of the haystacks varied according to the time of day they were painted, the season and month they were painted in and how the light shone on the haystack at the time.
Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning, Claude Monet " Getty Museum video
Most of the haystacks were located within 2 miles of his home and most were about 15-20 feet high (4.5 - 6 metres) - although in 1890 a particularly large stack was erected close to the wall of Monet's property.
This one stack might have been what prompted this series of paintings.
The colour that the haystack is perceived to be by Monet is wholly determined by which colours are absorbed by the haystack. What's left is the the colour that cannot be absorbed - and that's the colour of the haystack
Traditionally, it's been thought that the motifs in Monet's series paintings were just objects which he used to explore how light, color, and form changed over the course of the day and in different weather conditions.
However there is now a view that Monet was equally interested in the meaning and significance of the motifs themselves. Stacks of wheat are traditional symbols of rural traditions - in a time of increasing industrialisation and urbanisation. They also symbolise the land's fertility, the local farmers' material wealth, and the region's prosperity.
"For me a landscape hardly exists at all as a landscape, because its appearance is constantly changing; but it lives by virtue of its surroundings, the air and the light which vary continually."
— Claude Monet
Les meules de Monet
More about Monet's series - the wheat stacks - a Making A Mark project
I did a project looking at the background behind the series of paintings of stacks of wheat and researched the information available on the internet as well as in books.
You can read what I found out in my two blog posts below
- Why and how Monet developed his series paintings
This post looks at:* why Monet painted series paintings* when he painted his series paintings* the various reasons leading to his choice of subject matter* which paintings are regarded as part of his series paintings* and finally, how he actually des
- Monet's series paintings - stacks of wheat
About the motif, design and execution of the series of paintings of stacks of wheat
Monet in the '90s: The Series Paintings
The First Exhibition of the Series - at Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris
The very first time people saw these paintings was in an exhibition held in a room of the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris in May 1891.
Fifteen of these impressionist paintings by Monet of haystacks were displayed in the exhibition - and all the paintings sold quickly.
- Durand-Ruel bought in eight before the exhibition opened - a common strategy for a gallery owner who was sure an exhibition would be a success. It enabled him to place the paintings with important collectors who used his gallery - and also helped his status with acquiring more collectors as future clients.
- Monet sold two of the paintings direct to his collectors before the exhibition opened.This left just five which were available for sale.
Besides being a commercial and financial success, the paintings were also received well and got good reviews from the critics.
It seems as if people read into the haystacks whatever meaning meant something to them and it appears there were a lot of meanings there to be read!
- Haystacks (Monet) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Haystacks (Monet) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThis article is about a series of paintings by Claude Monet.
How to tell the difference between haystacks and grain stacks
Hay in Art - Missed stacks and mistakes: distinguishing between hay and straw and other heaps. by Alan Ritch provides a great overview of the conundrum of what to call these paintings
The problem arises because artists give names to objects - but these might not be the right names.
Of course in Monet's case his titles would have been in French and hence there's also the issue of translation from French to English to take into account.
So the question is - are these hay stacks or grain stacks?
It helps if we know what the difference between the two actually is.
Hay is created when grass is cut by some form of cutting implement. In the past manual labourers would use a scythe. Now in many parts of the world machinery does the job.
The grass is left on the ground to dry. It used to be turned by farm labourers using large rakes. Drying means the grass loses its colour. After that the dry grass - or hay - would be dragged together and heaped into stacks and left to dry some more before it was removed to storage in the farmyard.
Now the work of the manual labourers is undertaken by a tractor which cuts the grass and hay balers which create rectangular hay bales. The bales are then collected and stacked neatly - in the field to start with and then in the farmyard for winter feed.
Grain crops also used to be cut by hand - usually using a sickle or a scythe. This happened when the grain had ripened and turned to gold. Manually the straw stalks topped by the grain would be bound together into a sheaf and tied with straw.
The sheaves are then set on end and lean together to create a stook with the grain on the inside and the straw stalks on the outside - creating a weather-proof canopy for the grain.
Stooks would then be built up into stacks - either in the field or the farmyard. It was all a question of progression.
Nowadays, the grain is extracted by the combine harvester and goes for storage in a grain silo. The straw stalks are chopped up, tossed out and spread by the combine harvester on the field.
Monet Haystacks - video by Khan Academy
Locations of the Stacks in Museums and Art Galleries
The paintings may be a series but they are now located all over the world in private collections and the permanent collections and exhibitions of different art galleries and museums.
The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, USA has the largest collection of these paintings owning six in total. These are:
- Stack of Wheat, 1890/91,
- Stack of Wheat (Snow Effect, Overcast Day), 1890/91,
- Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset), 1890/91,
- Stacks of Wheat (End of Day, Autumn), 1890/91,
- Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer), 1890/91 and
- Stacks of Wheat (Sunset, Snow Effect), 1890/91
The website links below are to where the individual paintings can be seen in MUSEUMS AND ART GALLERIES (below) - and also online
- The Art Institute of Chicago - Monet - Stack of wheat
Claude Monet French, 1840-1926Stack of Wheat, 1890/91
- The Art Institute of Chicago - Monet - Stack of Wheat (Snow Effect, Overcast Day),
Claude Monet French, 1840-1926Stack of Wheat (Snow Effect, Overcast Day), 890/91Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 5/8 in. (66 x 93 cm)
- The Art Institute of Chicago - Monet - Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset)
Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926Stack of Wheat (Thaw, Sunset), 1890/91Oil on canvas, 25 9/16 x 36 3/8 in. (64.9 x 92.3 cm)
- The Art Institute of Chicago - Monet -
Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926Stacks of Wheat (End of Day, Autumn), 1890/91Oil on canvas, 27 7/8 x 39 3/4 in. (65.8 x 101 cm)
- The Art Institute of Chicago - Monet - Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer)
Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer), 1890/91Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 39 3/8 in. (60 x 100 cm)
- The Art Institute of Chicago - Monet - Stacks of Wheat (Sunset, Snow Effect)
Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926Stacks of Wheat (Sunset, Snow Effect), 1890/91Oil on canvas, 25 11/16 x 39 1/2 in. (65.3 x 100.4 cm)
- French Impressionism Paintings | Hill-Stead Museum | Farmington CT
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926)Monet is famous for his serial haystack or grainstack paintings, executed in his rural Giverny backyard.The two in Hill-Stead's collection exemplify his study of the effect of changing light and season on a single subj
- Muse d'Orsay, Paris, France
Look up Claude Monet in the artists and then view the collected works. The stacks are on page 3.Meules, fin de l't (en 1891)
- Grainstack (Sunset) 1891 | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Grainstack (Sunset)1891Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926
- Grainstack (Snow Effect) | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Meadow with Haystacks near Giverny 1885
- Grainstack, Sun in the Mist 1891 | Minneapolis Institute of Arts - The Collection
This picture shows the autumn dawn, at a moment when the sun burns off the rising mist. The grainstack is seen against the morning light, which forms a halo around it.
- The National Museum of Western Art
Claude Monet Paris, 1840 - Giverny, 1926HaystackIn this drawing, the entourage of the haystacks projecting dark shadows against the light is contoured in dots. Similar dotted lines are also visible around the trees in the mid-ground. This study shows
- Haystacks: Snow Effect Claude Monet | Collection - National Galleries of Scotland
The complementary colours orange and blue enrich the solid forms and cast shadows of the haystacks in the snow.
- Meules, milieu du jour [Haystacks, midday] | National Gallery of Australia
Meules, milieu du jour [Haystacks, midday]This is one of eight paintings of stacks of wheat that Monet began in the late summer and. autumn of 1890.
Paintings of stacks in Private Collections
These are links below to individual haystack paintings which are in Private Collections.
The Atheneum seems to have the best record of paintings which are not on public view. My understanding is that most of their images originally came from old auction catalogues
Websites highlighting Monet's Stacks Series
These are websites where you can see the paintings of the hay stacks as a series
- Monet's Colors - Haystacks
Monet's series of haystacks are painted under different light conditions at different times of the day. He would rise before dawn, paint the first canvas for half an hour, by which time the light would have changed. Then he would switch to the second
- WebMuseum: Monet, Claude: Haystacks
Webmuseum - lists a few of the paintings - but images are poor.
- Famous Paintings Famous Artists -- Famous Haystacks Series Paintings of Monet
A gallery of famous paintings by famous artists to inspire you and to help you expand your knowledge of great paintings, such as Monet's haystacks series paintings.
- The Athenaeum - Claude Monet
Works by Claude MonetGrainstacks are listed in 1890-1891
Comments and Suggestions - Let me know what you think - but please do not spam!
Katherine Tyrrell (author) from London on December 19, 2012:
@anonymous: I take it you didn't read the lens then - which lists dates for every one of the paintings in the series which I managed to track down.
anonymous on December 18, 2012:
Put some dates like the beginning and end of Monet's series or at least give an idea of when he painted them.