Claude Monet

Claude Monet

What's the biography of Claude Monet?

Claude Monet painted many landscapes and was born in 1840 in France. After an art exhibition in 1874, a critic insulted Monet's style by calling it Impressionism, since the art was more concerned with form and light than realism and the term stuck. Monet struggled with depression, poverty and illness throughout his life. He died in 1926.

The Early Life and Career of Claude Monet

The most famous painter in the history of art and a leading figure in the Impressionist movement, Claude Monet (some sources say Claude Oscar Monet) was born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, France. Monet's father, Adolphe, worked in his family's shipping business, while his mother, Louise, took care of the family. A trained singer, Louise liked poetry and was a popular hostess.
Claude Monet grew up in Le Havre, France. At the age of five, he moved to Le Havre with his family. He then grew up with his older brother, Leon. While Leon was a good student, Claude suffered from being confined to the classroom. Instead he liked to be outside drawing pictures of people and caricatures of his teachers. Monet became passionate about art early in life and filled his books with sketches of people. His mother supported his artistic efforts; however, his father wanted Claude to go into business. When Monet's mother died in 1857, he suffered greatly.
The eccentric and iconoclastic Claude Monet is hailed as the founder of the French impressionist movement. In the community, he became well-known for his caricatures and for drawing many of the town's residents. After meeting Eugene Boudin, a local landscape artist, Monet started to explore the natural world in his work. Boudin introduced him to painting outdoors, or plein air painting, which would later become the cornerstone of Monet's work.
Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris, France.  At the age of 15, Monet decided to move to Paris to pursue his interests in art. Within three years’ time, he became a student at Academie Suisse. During his studies, he became close friends with fellow artist Camille Pissarro.
Claude Monet was a French painter and founder of French Impressionist. From 1861 to 1862, Monet served in the military and was stationed in Algiers, Algeria, but he was discharged for health reasons. Returning to Paris, Monet studied with Charles Gleyre. Through Gleyre, Monet met several other artists, including Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille; the four of them became friends. He also received advice and support from Johann Barthold Jongkind, a landscape painter who proved to be an important influence to the young artist.
Claude Monet, the famous Impressionist painter liked to work outdoors and was sometimes accompanied by Renoir, Sisley and Bazille on these painting sojourns. Claude Monet won acceptance to the Salon of 1865, an annual juried art show in Paris; the show chose two of his paintings, which were marine landscapes. Though Monet’s works received some critical praise, he still struggled financially.
Claude Monet’s work in the 1850s and 1860s established his reputation in Paris. The following year, he was selected again to participate in the Salon. This time, the show officials chose a landscape and a portrait of Camille (or also called Woman in Green), which featured his lover and future wife, Camille Doncieux. Doncieux came from a humble background and was substantially younger than Monet. She served as a muse for him, sitting for numerous paintings during her lifetime. The couple experienced great hardship around the birth of their first son, Jean, in 1867.
Monet and his wife lived apart due to her family's disapproval of the relationship. Monet was in dire financial straits, and his father was unwilling to help them. Monet became so despondent over the situation that, in 1868, he attempted suicide by trying to drown himself in the Seine River.
Claude Monet and Camille married in June 1870, and following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the couple fled with their son to London, England. There, Monet met Paul Durand-Ruel, who became his first art dealer.
Claude Monet returned to France after the war and settled in Argenteuil, worked to develop his own technique. During his time in Argenteuil, he visited with many of his artist friends including Renoir, Pissarro and Edouard Manet who at first hated him because people confused their names. Banding together with several other artists, Monet helped form the Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs as an alternative to the Salon and exhibited their works together.
When Monet got frustrated with his work, he sometimes destroyed a number of paintings new estimates range as high as 500 works. Claude Monet would simply burn, throw out or kick the offending piece. In addition to these outbursts, he was known to suffer from bouts of depression and self-doubt.

Mastering Light and Color: A Lesson from Claude Monet

Monet's paintings are among the most famous, beautiful, and valuable in art history. He painted them with a new technique that allowed him to capture on canvas more light and color than anyone before him had been able to. His method was to paint the same scene again and again under different light conditions. Usually he made several paintings of each subject on the same day for instance, six paintings of the water lilies pond at Giverny on various days in June of 1918. And he repeated this process for more than forty years. What makes his method so interesting is how difficult it must have been. Monet was famous for being a perfectionist, yet these are anything but perfect images. The first impression is one of chaos seemingly random patches of color with no connection to each other or to their surroundings. Look more closely, though, and you can see that Monet wanted this effect that he was painting with the idea that each color would convey some light quality even if its source is not directly visible; that he was looking for what he called "the vibration of color." The Impressionists painted outdoors, directly from nature. They preferred natural light to studio light, and they liked to paint on rainy days because the clouds diffused the light in interesting ways. The result is that the paintings have a kind of glow, an atmosphere. You can see why people had trouble recognizing them as art at first. "Impressionism" was a derogatory term invented by critics who didn't get what was going on. But it wasn't meant as a compliment: an impression is a vague thing, not worth much attention. But the word has stuck, and we now know what the Impressionists were trying to do. The goal was not to make vague sketches; it was to capture the way things look under certain conditions of light and color and atmosphere. It was an artistic goal but also a scientific one: if you could distill those conditions into rules for how light and color work together, you could use those rules to make better pictures. And they succeeded; Monet's paintings are among the most admired in art history. But they succeeded despite Monet himself, not because of him. He never learned those rules; he just stumbled on them by trial and error, painting after painting until they came out right.

Claude Monet Orangerie des Tuileries Project

Claude Monet was a French painter. In the 1860s, he became famous for using a technique called impressionism. In an impressionistic painting, you don't try to paint exactly what you see, but rather how it looks to you. Monet lived in Paris, and he liked going to the Tuileries Gardens there to watch people and animals. One day in 1874, he got an idea: he would paint a picture that showed how it looked from his viewpoint on a sunny afternoon. He wanted to show how the light changed as the shadows from the trees shifted, and how the colors of the grass and pond reflected off each other under different lighting conditions. Next time you are at a museum with a Monet, look at it from the sides or from across the room, or in different lights. You'll see what is special about an impressionist painting. Claude Monet's paintings of the poplars on the banks of the Epte River at Giverny are justly famous. Less well known is his enormous project to paint all the Japanese maple trees in the Orangerie des Tuileries gardens in Paris, where they were installed after being uprooted during a redesign of the garden. The project lasted from 1887 to 1904, by which time Monet was 71 years old. He painted snow-covered trees in winter and springtime trees in full leaf and brilliant colors. But the most evocative works are those he did in late summer, when the leaves had fallen and their branches were black against the sky. In the painting above, for example, each twig is as distinct as a single brushstroke. In his youth Monet had been an impressionist; now he was becoming a pointillist. The actual number of individual dots is vast: one critic estimated that a painting gave a million dots to the inch. To paint these canvases Monet had to invent a new technique for mixing oils with resins so that he could apply them without leaving brushstrokes behind.

Claude Monet's Waterlily Birthplace and Museum

Monet grew up in Le Havre, a busy French port city. The waterlily paintings he did later in life were inspired by the lilies growing on the edge of town. Monet's father was a merchant, and his mother raised the children at home. Monet grew up knowing that he was not destined to be wealthy; his family had already decided that his brother would take over the family business. Monet spent his childhood exploring the nearby countryside, drawing and painting. He loved to paint outdoors (he would eventually become known for painting scenes of the same thing over and over), but getting paints was expensive, so he often stretched canvas over cardboard instead of buying real painting board. He became close friends with an older boy who shared his love of art. When Monet's friend brought him some beautiful pencil sketches, Monet was so grateful that he offered to give up half of his own precious collection in exchange. When both sets of parents found out about the 'swap', they decided to let their sons continue to share their art supplies. If you visit Monet's birth place in Paris, you can see the house he was born in, and the street he lived on, and the church where he got married, and the fields where he painted. You can see his favorite chair and hear recordings of him playing the piano. There is also a small museum with a few of his paintings. This visit to his childhood home does not give you much sense of what it was like to be Claude Monet. Why? What if instead of visiting Monet's house, we built a house that was an exact duplicate of Claude Monet's house? It would have pretty much everything in Claude Monet's house: a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom. But behind each object there would be a video screen showing what it looked like when Claude Monet was alive. You would see him sleeping, reading the paper at the kitchen table, going for walks with his family. The furniture would be real but as you sat on it, you would feel as if you were touching Claude Monet himself.

Monet’s Favorite Colors

Claude Monet was born in 1840. When he was six, his family moved from Paris to Le Havre, a port city across the channel from England. Monet's father had a shop selling stationery and art supplies to the fleet of British ships that called at the port, and the family lived above the shop. Immediately outside the house was an enormous coal yard. The coal was delivered by ship and then carried by wagon to other parts of the city. Since coal dust permeated everything, Monet grew up surrounded by shades of black. He would later write, "Black is one of my favorite colors." Claude Monet's paintings are known for their beautiful light. But there is another, less famous aspect of his art that also deserves our attention. His palette. Monet loved color in a way that was not common among the Impressionists, his artistic colleagues. He loved color in a way that is not common among artists today. He loved it so much he wanted to make paintings that looked like the colors we see in nature, but couldn’t because of the limitations of paint and canvas. Monet did not want to imitate nature, he wanted to reproduce it. And he wanted to reproduce it using pigments and brushes and canvas to get the same effects that our eyes get when we look at nature.

His Art Work was a Promise of a New Dawn

Claude Monet the Impressionists' leader, its most brilliant innovator, and certainly its greatest colorist was not an obvious candidate for fame. He was born in 1840 to a prosperous bourgeois family. He had two older brothers, one of whom died before he was born, and the other who died soon after. His parents had wanted another child, but his mother had suffered three miscarriages, so she had no more children. Monet's father was a successful businessman, and his house on Rue Lebourgneuf was near the city center of Le Havre on the English Channel coast. The house is still there; it has been turned into a museum of Monet's life and work (although it has not yet acquired the thousands of tourists who make pilgrimage to Van Gogh's house in Arles). Monet loved to draw as a boy; he loved the sea. But like many boys who love drawing, he grew up to despise his early efforts. So he told the story of how the painter Eugène Boudin saw some of Monet's youthful drawings and encouraged him to continue. This part is true; Monet did tell that story. But Boudin had died three years before Monet was born.

Monet's Later Years and Death

The Impressionist, Claude Monet lived an interesting life. As he experienced in other points in his life, he struggled with depression in his later years. He wrote to one friend that "Age and chagrin have worn me out. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that's left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear." Despite his feelings of despair, he continued working on his paintings until his final days.
Claude Monet died on December 5, 1926, at his home in Giverny. He once wrote, "My only merit lies in having painted directly in front of nature, seeking to render my impressions of the most fleeting effects." Most art historians believe that Monet accomplished much more than this: He helped change the world of painting by dissolving forms in his works, opened the door for further abstraction in art, and he is credited with influencing such later artists as Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.
Since 1980, Monet's Giverny home has been home to the Claude Monet Foundation.

The Claude Monet Foundation

The Claude Monet Foundation is a museum, but it is more. It is a great house of art and nature combined. It is like a great palace or temple of art, located at Giverny (pronounced Jhev-Nee) in France, with gardens designed by Monet himself. The main building contains Monet's own collection of paintings, including many Renoirs and Cezannes. The building also displays many statues that Monet collected. He had a special affinity for the work of Rodin, whose famous sculpture "Le Penseur" (the Thinker) was among them. An entire room in the main building is devoted to photographs of Rodin's sculptures; it helps to explain why Monet loved them so much. Monet also collected paintings by Van Gogh and Gauguin, so their work can be seen here as well.

Oil painting reproduction of Claude Monet


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