Claude Monet was a key figure in the Impressionist Art movement that transformed French painting in the second half of the nineteenth century.
He was devoted to painting the transient and softening effects of light and colour.
Monet moved to Giverny in 1883, and the extensive gardens and lily ponds provided the inspiration for his later works — the Water Lilies series.
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Claude Monet’s prints influenced the development of Modern art. Monet was considered the leading member of the Impressionists.
The group emerged in the late-1800s, united by an eagerness to step away from the rigid conventions of art, epitomized by Naturalism.
After a series of rejections from the French Salon, Monet and the Impressionists formed the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers.
At the first Impressionist Exhibition in 1874, the art critic Louis Leroy complained that the group for only painting impressions and nothing else.
Claude Monet was born Oscar-Claude Monet in 1840 in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. His family moved to Le Havre, Normandy only five years later.
At nineteen, Monet would return to Paris. His birthplace would offer much to the young artist. When he visited the Louvre, he witnessed artists copying the works of old masters.
Instead of doing the same, Monet painted what he could see outside the Louvre’s windows.
In Paris, Monet met a fellow member of the Impressionists and close friend, Edouard Manet.
Monet served as a soldier in Algeria in 1861. He was forced to fight after being drafted into the army and joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry.
Monet’s aunt paid for his army discharged after he got sick with typhoid fever, after which he enrolled in art school in Paris.
Monet’s created caricatures in charcoal, drawing his teachers and neighbours. He was known for these artworks when he entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts in April 1851.
At age fifteen, he even made some money selling the better drawings, earning ten to twenty francs.
Monet’s artistic talent was encouraged by his mother. His father wanted him to focus on the family business, which was a grocery store.
After his mother died in 1857, Monet went to live with his aunt and studied art.
He stopped drawing caricatures after meeting landscape painter Eugene Boudin, who encouraged him to paint en plein air.
Claude Monet was a master of en plein air, preferring this method to capture the everchanging effect of light and colour, usually in short brushstrokes and bold colours.
By doing this, he broke away from the conventions of art and, as a result, produced truly unique prints.
For much of his work, Monet prints painted straight onto the canvas rather than sketch the painting before heading back to the studio to paint.
Claude Monet’s paintings are some of the most recognisable around the world. He painted over 2000 artworks.
Many of the works he painted were of the same subject, painted over and over as he reflected the everchanging light and colour provided by nature.
Below is a list of five of Claude Monet’s most famous art paintings.
Impression, Sunrise is the Monet print that gave the Impressionist movement its name. This paintings most iconic feature is the sun and its reflection in the water.
It depicts the port city of Le Havre in Normandy. Monet chose to call the painting impression because it lacked specific elements.
Two years after its creation, Impression, Sunrise was displayed at the first Impressionism Exhibition and angered critics.
In Woman with a Parasol, Monet captured his wife and son leisurely strolling through a sunny field.
This is a typical Impressionist painting as Monet painted it en plein air.
At the time of the painting, the family was living by the river in Argenteuil, where they lived from 1871 to 1877. During this time, Monet enjoyed painting en plein air.
Like Water Lilies, Monet had a series of paintings based on haystacks.
The series accumulated to twenty-five paintings set after the harvest season, when the hay had been stacked.
At the time, Monet had been comfortably living in Giverny, France, and the fields were not far from his home. He often painted a subject matter over and over when he wanted to capture the changing colours and lights.
Between 1892-93, Monet painted the Rouen Cathedral thirty times.
Monet was intent on capturing the changing light and colour as it hit the cathedral and, to achieve this, rented an apartment with views of the cathedral.
These Monet canvas prints often began early in the morning, and finished when it became dark. By 1895, Monet had twenty paintings ready to exhibit.
In another experiment in light and colour, Monet painted the British Houses of Parliament nineteen times.
Monet had travelled to London twice in 1900 and then again in 1901. His aim was the work on the Houses of Parliament series.
His studio was on a terrace in the St. Thomas Hospital. Monet worked exceptionally fast, sketching out the building as the day went on, and then painted what he saw from his view from the balcony.
In Giverny rather than in London, Monet completed the series, which took another three years.
Of all of Monet’s artworks, perhaps his Water Lilies are the most recognizable. Monet’s garden in Giverny provided him with ample material to paint from.
An avid gardener, Monet created his Giverny garden to burst with colour all year round.
When he added a pond to the garden, he naturally needed a bridge to walk over it, and so added a Japanese bridge.
The series is over two hundred paintings large, and they’re scattered all over the world, in private and public collections.
Perhaps the most impressive of the Water Lilies can be found at the Musee L’Orangerie in Paris. On large panels that stretch across the walls, Monet’s water lilies shimmer.
In 1883, Claude Monet sought a quiet life in the countryside and so moved to Giverny.
He resided in Giverny, where he rented a house amongst nature and remained there until his death in December of 1926.
During the last years of his life, Monet began having issues with his sight. In 1912, he would be diagnosed with cataracts, which would affect his ability to see the full spectrum of colour.
In 1922, he became legally blind. Throughout his career, Monet often received criticism for abandoning traditional painting techniques.
Perhaps his worst notes of criticism came after his vision failed him and critics mocked his blurry paintings on his failing eyesight rather than the brilliant innovation of his Impressionist style.
Monet had two cataract surgeries, and with the aid of tinted glasses, he may have been able to see ultraviolet light. Notably, he painted water lilies a little bit more blue than usual.
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