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Claude Monet and his paintings

Claude Monet Photo
Claude Monet, one of the most highly regarded artists of all time, was a leader within the Impressionism movement that brought dramatic changes to French painting in the second half of the 19th century.

Raised in Normany, Monet painted landscapes, seascapes and leisure activities of Paris and the Normandy coast. His unique style captured the beauty of viewing nature. He often painted his immediate surroundings and the people within. His first wife, Camille, and his second wife, Alice, were often his models.

Monet's early works are rooted in Realism. Initially he drew charcoal caricatures in Paris, but he was introduced to plein-air paintings by Eugene Boudin, who painted resorts along the Channel coast. Later, Monet joined Charles Gleyre's Paris studio and studied with Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne and other artists who would later become Impressionists along with Monet.

Some of Monet's landscapes, seascapes and portraits were accepted to the annual Paris salons in the 1860s. He received recognition in 1866 for "Camille," also known as "The Woman in the Green Dress, which featured Camille Doncieux, who would become his first wife.

Monet shook up art history in 1874 when he took part in an independent exhibition with Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Renoir and other artists. The exhibition was both unpopular and critically panned.

Monet's Impression: Sunrise (1873) was especially ill-received for its indistinct forms and unfinished appearance. The painting's name prompted art reviewer Louis LeRoy to disparagingly call the paintings "impressions," rather than realistic depictions. This led to the artists turning the negative into a positive and taking the name for their own.

After living in the north of the France and London, and returning to the Paris area, Monet eventually settled in Giverny, France, in 1883. Friends often gathered in his homes and spacious gardens, including Manet and Renoir, who often painted with Monet.

The grounds of Monet's home in Giverny gave way to a huge landscaping project that contained the lily ponds that would be part of his best-known works. He started to paint the water lilies in 1899, first creating vertical paintings centered by a Japanese bridge, and later began the series of large-scale paintings that he focused on continuously for the next 20 years.

Monet's final series, 12 water lily paintings commissioned by the Orangerie des Tuileries, a Paris museum, became an obsession for the rest of his life. Monet was depressed over the death of his second wife at the start of the series and hampered by cataracts through most of the 27 years he painted; he was almost blind by the time he finally agreed to have surgery on both eyes in 1923.

He intended the huge paintings to facilitate peaceful medication and soothe the stress of those who visited the museum. The abstract depictions of plants and water are framed by broad brushstrokes of color and meticulously built-up textures.

Monet died in 1926 at his home at the age of 86. The Water Lilies series was installed shortly after his death in specially designed galleries at the museum, where they remain.

Monet and the other Impressionists used color to accurately depict the effects of light on objects. He spent five years in the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil, painting in a small floating studio on the River Seine, and studying the effects of light and reflection.

Inspired by other studies of the effects of atmosphere such as rain and steam, Monet created several series (including his final "Water Lilies") in which he painted the same subjects, in different lighting, times of day, weather and season. He began these techniques in 1880 and continued until his death 46 years later.

Haystacks was the first of the series; 15 of those paintings were exhibited in 1891. The following year he produced what many consider his best-known series, 26 depictions of "Rouen Cathedral," characterized by light and shadows.

Monet was inspired early in his life by his studies of the landscapes of John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner in London. Manet and Monet each influenced the other; Manet was not technically an Impressionist, but was drawn into their fold and was part of the movement between Realism and Impressionism.

Many artists have been influenced by Monet, whose techniques inspired Impressionists and Post-Impressionists like Van Gogh, and further influenced the Modern Art movement, inspiring artists such as Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.

Masterpieces of Claude Monet

  • Impression Sunrise
  • Sunset in Venice
  • Water Lilies
  • The Magpie
  • The Garden of Monet at Argenteuil
  • Parliament at Sunset
  • The Artist's Garden at Giverny
  • The Poppy Field near Argenteuil
  • Women in the Garden
  • Tulip Fields
  • Sunflowers
  • Waterlily Pond with Japanese Bridge
  • The Garden at Sainte-Adresse
  • Garden Path at Giverny
  • Mount Kolsaas in Sunlight
  • Water Lilies Green Reflection
  • The Studion Boat
  • Haystacks
  • Woman with a Parasol
  • Madame Monet and Child