Biography of Claude Monet
Claude Oscar Monet was a French impressionist painter
who brought the study of the transient effects of natural light
to its most refined expression. Monet was born on November 14, 1840,
in Paris, but he spent most of his childhood in Le Havre. There,
in his teens, he studied drawing; he also painted seascapes outside
with the French painter Eugene Louis Boudin.
By 1859 Monet had committed himself to a career
as an artist and began to spend as much time in Paris as possible.
During the 1860s he was associated with the preimpressionist painter
Edouard Manet, and with other aspiring French painters destined
to form the impressionist school-Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste
Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. Working outside, Monet painted simple
landscapes and scenes of contemporary middle-class society, and
he began to have some success at official exhibitions.
As his style developed, however, Monet violated
one traditional artistic convention after another in the interest
of direct artistic expression. His experiments in rendering outdoor
sunlight with a direct, sketchlike application of bright color became
more and more daring, and he seemed to cut himself off from the
possibility of a successful career as a conventional painter supported
by the art establishment. In 1874 Monet and his colleagues decided
to appeal directly to the public by organizing their own exhibition.
They called themselves independents, but the press soon derisively
labeled them impressionists because their work seemed sketchy and
unfinished and because one of Monet's paintings had borne the title
Monet's compositions from this time are extremely
loosely structured, and the color was applied in strong, distinct
strokes as if no reworking of the pigment had been attempted. This
technique was calculated to suggest that the artist had indeed captured
a spontaneous impression of nature. During the 1870s and 1880s Monet
gradually refined this technique, and he made many trips to scenic
areas of France, especially the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts,
to study the most brilliant effects of light and color possible.
By the mid-1880s Monet, generally regarded as the
leader of the impressionist school, had achieved significant recognition
and financial security. Despite the boldness of his color and the
extreme simplicity of his compositions, he was recognized as a master
of meticulous observation, an artist who sacrificed neither the
true complexities of nature nor the intensity of his own feelings.
In 1890 he was able to purchase some property in the village of
Giverny, not far from Paris, and there he began to construct a water
garden -a lily pond arched with a Japanese bridge and overhung with
willows and clumps of bamboo.
Beginning in 1906, paintings of the pond and the
water lilies occupied him for the remainder of his life. Throughout
these years he also worked on his other celebrated "series"
paintings, groups of works representing the same subject-haystacks,
poplars, Rouen Cathedral, the river Seine-seen in varying light,
at different times of the day or seasons of the year. Despite failing
eyesight, Monet continued to paint almost up to the time of his
death, on December 5, 1926, at Giverny.
the Claude Monet Gallery >>