Claude Monet is considered as the founders of the French Impressionist art movement in the 1870s. Indeed the movement's name, Impressionism, is derived from his famous painting
Impression, Sunrise. In many sense, Claude Monet is the quintessential Impressionist painter. The spontaniety and vivacity of his painting technique and his
devotion to the close observation of nature have been the focus of most discussions of his art.
Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840, in the city of Paris, France. He founded the Impressionism art movement, as inspired by his painting entitled Impression, Sunrise. His childhood was largely spent in Paris, and he was inspired by his mother to appreciate music and the arts.
In 1851, Monet attended the Le Havre, where he took up drawing classes, as well as commerce. While in school, he would often find himself going outdoors, particularly the Le Havre port, Sainte-Adresse
cliffs and the beach. He adored nature, and it was where he gained inspiration from his drawings and sketches.
Francais-Charles Ochard taught him the basics of drawing. He was a patient teacher, and he gained much respect from his students. In fact, it was this teacher who inspired Monet to draw for hours. Some of his sketches included boats, people, landscapes and even caricatures of his teachers. With his exceptional talent in drawing, he became quite popular in school and charged for his portraits that people bought from him. In addition, his caricatures were exhibited at Gravier's shop.
Eventually, Monet met with Monsieur Eugene Boudin, who was a friend of Gravier. Boudin became his mentor, and he was 16 years old when he first took lessons from him. Monet learned and mastered how to use oils and pastels in his paintings. He used these tools to create the right colors that would best depict the beauty of the outside world.
It was Boudin who gave Monet an opportuity to perform en plain air or open air painting. He began painting landscapes, with "View from Rouelles" as his very first landscape painting that was exhibited in 1858. The painting was also called as the Vue des bords de la Lezarde as it featured the stream and valley of the Lezarde or the Rouelles.
In 1859, Monet travelled to Paris and visited the Palais de l'Industrie, where he met a few artists including Lhuillier, Monginot, Tryon and Gautier. He also decided to settle in Paris where he enrolled in the Academie Suisse. It was here where the artist became acquainted with Gustave Courbet and Camille Pissarro. Monet became preoccupied with drawing figures, which were apparent in some of his artworks.
In 1862, Monet joined Charles Gleyre's studio, a Swiss painter. He remained there for two years, and he met fellow artists such as Alfred Sisley, Frederic Bazille and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Together, they painted various artworks that presented the effects of en plain air, although they all had several novel approaches to art. However, what was distinct about their works was the use of rapid brushstrokes and broken color. These qualities are the main features of the art style known as impressionism.
These artists would often paint outdoors to have a first-hand experience of the beauty of nature. While Monet appreciated this technique, he aimed to present his own style and establish a name for himself. Hence, he began painting various subjects indoors in traditional style, and these became quite successful.
Although he received criticisms from his larger pieces, he still continued to paint in the style that appealed to him the most. In fact, his painting called Woman in the Green Dress earned him much recognition. This painting was completed in four days, and it was the artist's last entry to the 1866 Salon. The following year, though, he attempted to exhibit his painting Women in the Garden, but the Salon rejected it.
During the time of Camille's pregnancy, Monet had trouble with finances and this caused him to rely on his friends for financial support. Hence, the artist was taken in by his aunt at Sainte-Adresse, while Camille remained in Paris where she gave birth to Jean, in 1867. It was also in this year that Monet was unable to paint much because he suffered from eyesight problems.
The artist encountered numerous financial concerns that led to his depression. Fortunately, things turned around when he was granted a pension from Gaudibert who gave him a chance to paint in Etretat and Fecamp. By 1869, he remained in Saint-Michel and pursued painting to earn him a solid income.
Camille and Monet married in 1870, but eventually the Franco-Prussian War broke off. Thus, the couple decided to leave France and settle in England. While in London, the artist met Joseph Mallord, William Turner and John Constable, who were established English landscape painters. They were impressed by Monet's works, and they decided to improve their painting styles by making innovations with the use of color. Other artists who Monet met in England included Daubigny and Pissarro, as well as Durand-Ruel who bought a number of his canvases and had these paintings exhibited.
Monet, along with fellow artists including Paul Cezanne, Camille Pissarro, Renoir, Edouard Manet, Sisley and Edgar Degas, the very first impressionist art exhibition was organized. However, it was not successful, and this led to financial concerns for Monet and his family. Manet offered the artist a house in Argenteuil where Monet, his wife and son lived for four years.
The artist was able to sell some of his paintings at the Hotel Drouot, although it was not much of help because of minimal sales. Even if he came across disappointments in life, he never allowed his paintings to appear somber. In fact, he persisted in painting using a style that was not fully accepted yet at that time.
In the 1870s, Monet was able to master this art technique, and he took a number of trips to France's scenic places such as the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. He studied and refined the brilliant effects of color and light. Monet also travelled to Pourville, Varangeville-sur-mer, and Dieppe for inspiration in his paintings.
By 1916, the artist began his series of painting, and he was able to complete these in 1926. He painted on a total of 12 large canvases. Eventually, he donated these to France after the signing of the Armistice. Monet's paintings were displayed at the Museum of the Orangerie, which held a special architectural space intended only for his artworks.
By 1923, Monet became partially blind, and an operation from cataract slightly improved his eyesight. However, he became ill again in 1926, and this time he suffered from lung cancer. The same year, he died and was buried in the Giverny Church Cemetery.
Just like Shakespeare on play, and Sigmund Freud on psychology, Monet's impact on art is tremendous. Many artists have been influenced by Monet, whose techniques inspired Impressionists and Post-Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh, and further influenced the Modern Art movement, inspiring artists such as Jackson Pollack, and Mark Rothko.