The Bodmer Oak

Monet, C. (1865). The Bodmer Oak, Fontainebleau Forest [Oil on canvas]. New York City: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By Jack Kruf

It is painted by impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926) in the year 1865. According to Plant Curator there is a strong possibility this tree is of the species Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Lieblein (Sessile Oak, Chêne sessile, Wintereik, Traubeneiche), an emblematic tree of the French forest.

The Bodmer Oak was named after Swiss artist Karl Bodmer (1809–1893), who exhibited his painting of a tree in the heart of Fontainebleau Forest, La Forêt en Hiver, 15 years earlier at the Salon of 1850. The painting of Monet is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Monet used bright yellows, greens, and oranges to depict sunlight filtering through the canopy of branches. The carpet of russet leaves signals that he painted this view just before he concluded a months-long visit to Fontainebleau in October 1865 (Source:

What makes this painting so special that it feels you are actually standing in the middle of the forest, at the same level as the tree, at the same spot within the wide forest. It connects you to the tree. It is a great feeling. As if you feel being part of something far more bigger than you. Go into the forest and try it. It is a form of Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing. Claude Monet painted this feeling in the Bodmer Oak.