Claude Oscar Monet (1840-1926 ).
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Claude Oscar Monet was born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, France to Claude-Adolphe, a grocery store owner, and Louise-Justine Aubree, a singer. Monet was raised in Le Havre. In 1851, at the age of eleven, Monet began his studies at the Le Havre school for the arts and began selling charcoal paintings to people in the area. He developed a reputation as a caricature artist by the time he was 15. A caricature is a drawing that exaggerates somebody's characteristics in a funny way.
As the younger of two sons, Monet's father hoped that he would continue the family grocery store business, but Monet had other ideas. To his father's disappointment, Monet openly declared his love of art and his hopes of living life as an artist. In 1857, Monet's mother passed away and he left school to live with his aunt. Here is another example of one of Monet’s caricatures. This one actually looks unfinished as you can see outlines of other figures on the right-hand side.
In 1858, the young artist met landscape painter EugèneBoudin, who became a sort of teacher for Monet and who first introduced him to paintingoutdoors. Pleinair painting (capturing the effects of light and atmosphere by painting outdoors) eventually became the basis for his life’s work. Monet’s earliest known painting is entitled View from Rouelles(1858).
Against his father’s wishes, Monet left for Paris in 1859 to start a career in painting. On a visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris, Monet observed painters mimicking the work of famous artists. Instead of copying styles of other painters, Monet, who always traveled with his paints, sat by the window and painted the view. An example of this type of painting is Path in Ile Saint Martin (1861).
In 1861, Monet joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria where he stayed for two years. Although he was originally supposed to remain in Algeria for seven years, his aunt petitioned for his return after he contracted typhoid fever (a bacterial disease that is transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food). This photo of Monet was taken in 1860 shortly before leaving for Algeria.
Upon his return to Paris, he picked up where he left off - studying art, experimenting with new styles, traveling, and forming important friendships with fellow painters including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, FrédéricBazille, and ÉdouardManet with whom Monet shared ideas on new, rapid painting techniques. Here is one of his early landscapes entitled, The Road from Bas-Breau(1865).
In 1865, his paintings were submitted for the first time to the Paris Salon (art exhibit). His friend Camille Doncieux and painter FrédéricBazille posed for Luncheon on the Grass (1865).
During the 1860s, Monet was captivated by natural light, atmosphere, and color. He tried to record them in his paintings as accurately as possible. A striking example of his early style is Garden at Sainte-Adresse(1867), which contains a shimmering mixture of bright, natural colors. It avoided the drab browns and blacks of the earlier landscape artists.
Sadly, few of Monet's paintings from this early period survived. Throughout the 1860s and 1870s, he was often short of money and destroyed his own paintings rather than have them taken away by those to whom he owed money. This painting is entitled Women at the Garden at Ville d'Avray (1867). Monet's girlfriend, Camille, posed for the three figures on the left.
In 1870, Monet married Camille Doncieux and they had a son named Jean. When the Franco-Prussian War began in July of 1870, Monet and Camille decided to leave France for England where Monet studied other artists like John Constable and Joseph William Turner. Although his paintings were denied exhibition by the Royal Academy, Monet refused to give up. This painting of his wife and son is called Poppies at Argenteuil (1873).
His best-known, most popular works were produced during this time, where he often painted alongside Renoir, Sisley, and Manet. Monet regularly exhibited his paintings in the private Impressionist group shows, which first took place in 1874. During that first show, his painting Impression: Sunrise (1873) caused a newspaper critic to make fun of the new artists and call them "Impressionists“. The name stuck and that term is still used today to describe this artistic movement.
Monet's paintings from the 1870s, such as Red Boats at Argenteuil (1875), are fine examples of the new Impressionist style. Monet worked directly from nature and revealed that even on the darkest, gloomiest day, a wide variety of colors existed. To capture the sometimes temporary lights and shades, Monet learned that he had to paint quickly and to use short brushstrokes loaded with individual colors. The result was a canvas without the smooth blended surfaces of the past.
Camille fell ill in 1876 and never fully recovered. She gave birth to their second son, Michel, in 1878 and she passed away in 1879 from tuberculosis (an infection of the lungs). Camille's death was very difficult on Monet and he was very sad and depressed for several months. Monet’s paintings during this time showed his sorrow by consisting of dark, gloomy winter landscapes such as Snow Effect at Vétheuil(1879).
While traditional landscape artists painted exactly what they saw , Monet sought to paint the world how he saw it in his mind. Rather than painting numerous separate leaves, he painted splashes of constantly changing light and color. In painting the natural world, he based his art on how he could best express a certain feeling or mood, especially through the use of color, rather than how it might look in a photo. In other words, his goal was not to perfectly duplicate a landscape. It was to bring it to life as it existed in his mind, such as in Vetheuil in Summer (1880).
In 1883, Monet moved to Giverny where he explored his own direction of painting. He planted a vast garden that later inspired his famous works featuring willows and water lilies. While his home was in Giverny, he never stopped traveling . He captured this scene of Bordighera, Italy (1884) during his travels. Monet gradually gained recognition and financial success during the late 1880s and the 1890s. In 1887, Monet exhibited in New York City.
During a stay in the Hague, Netherlands, Monet painted A Field of Tulips in Holland (1886) dominated by a windmill. The landscapes feature a windmill and fields of flowers, but Monet found it difficult to interpret the scene as he wanted. He was captivated by the bright fields but found them frustrating to duplicate.
During this period, Monet's painting became increasingly modern. For example, Spring Trees by a Lake (1888) is dedicated entirely to shimmering light and color. Although his canvases were inspired by the visible world and outdoor scenes, they continued to move further away from the long standing tradition of painting landscapes exactly as they appeared.
He married Alice Hoschedé in 1892, who was a widow with six children. During the 1890s, Monet devoted himself to his serial paintings using his garden as constant inspiration. These series paintings also included his famous Haystacks(1891), Poplars (1891), and the Facades of Rouen Cathedral (1892-1894).
The series paintings, such as those of Rouen Cathedral (1892-1894), feature his subjects in the same position allowing only the natural light and weather conditions to vary from picture to picture. This makes the subject matter much less important, but emphasizes the moods. For that reason, Monet’s art established an important example for future abstract artists.
After decades of relative poverty, the artist was completely secure financially by 1899. In 1899-1900, Monet painted several views of the Japanese bridge which he had built on his property, such as this one entitled Water Lily Pond (1899). He took several trips to London and painted views of the Thames River.
Monet continued to focus on the pond of water lilies that was located near his house. One of those paintings is Water Lilies (1906). In 1907, he began to encounter the first problems with his eyesight. After his second wife's death in 1911 and his son Jean's death in 1914, Monet developed cataracts that affected his ability to see colors accurately.
In 1916, he began his famous series of paintings, The Water Lilies, at Giverny. The works themselves were revolutionary - 12 huge canvases (each 14 feet wide) that required the artist to learn an entirely new style of painting at the age of eighty! The paintings are characterized by a broad, sweeping style and depend almost entirely on color. Monet donated the paintings to France for the Museum of the Orangerie, in Paris.
He worked on the paintings without much rest, despite poor health and double cataracts, until his death from lung cancer on December 5, 1926. This photo was taken in his garden in 1922 and it shows Monet and another man with his famous Japanese bridge and lily pond.