Claude Monet (France) 1840-|
French painter, a leading figure in the late-19th-century movement called impressionism. Monet's paintings captured scenes of middle-class life and the ever-changing qualities of sunlight in nature. His technique of applying bright, unmixed colors in quick, short strokes became a hallmark of impressionism.
The son of a successful tradesman in marine supplies, Monet grew up in Le Havre on the Normandy coast. He showed signs of artistic talent as a teenager, drawing skillful caricatures of local personalities. He admired the work of many of the more adventurous artists of his day, landscapists
associated with the Barbizon School, such as Camille Corot, Charles-Fran?ois Daubigny, Constant Troyon, and Henri Rousseau. The Barbizon painters promoted landscape painting that stood without reference to historic, religious, or mythological stories, a concept that was then new to French
art. Monet also admired French realist artists Gustave Courbet and Honor? Daumier. The realists depicted members of the working classes, who until then had been considered unworthy subjects for art. Monet received crucial early guidance from two artists who specialized in painting seascapes out-of-doors,
Eug?ne Boudin, a fellow painter from Le Havre, and Dutch artist Johan Barthold Jongkind, whom Monet met in 1862. The unusual viewpoints (scenes shown from above or below), and broad areas of bright color in Japanese woodblock prints also influenced Monet's work.
Monet's formal art training
began in 1859 at the Acad?mie Suisse, a studio that provided models for aspiring artists to draw or paint, but gave little direct instruction. Another future leader of the impressionists, Camille Pissarro, was a fellow student there, and the two soon became close friends. After serving briefly in
the French military in Algeria, Monet joined a Parisian studio run by Charles Gabriel Gleyre in 1862. Gleyre's studio was essentially student-run. Like the Adad?mie Suisse, it encouraged students to draw from models, rather than from plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman statues, which was the common
teaching method of more conservative academies. In Gleyre's studio Monet met several artists who would become fellow impressionists, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Fr?d?ric Bazille. Bazille, who came from a wealthy family, gave Monet regular financial support during the 1860s.
In 1865 Monet
had his first works—two ambitious seascapes—accepted by the Salon, a juried art exhibition sponsored annually by the official French Academy of Fine Arts. Thereafter he had a checkered record of acceptance and rejection by the conservative Salon jury, although his works received praise from critics
such as French writer ?mile Zola and were purchased by discerning and influential buyers.
Monet's canvases from the mid-1860s were massive. The unfinished Luncheon on the Grass, a picnic scene begun in 1865, was originally intended to measure roughly 4.5 m by 6 m (15 ft by 20 ft). For two other
large paintings from that time, Monet's future wife Camille Doncieux posed in elegant attire: The Green Dress (1866, Kunsthalle, Bremen, Germany), which was shown in the Salon of 1866, and Women in the Garden (1867, Mus?e d'Orsay, Paris). After the Salon rejected Women in the Garden for its 1867
exhibition, Monet may have reconsidered investing so much effort in a single painting that might not sell, and he began to work on a smaller scale.
In 1869 Monet and Renoir painted a series of landscapes en plein air (outdoors) at a fashionable bathing place, La Grenouill?re, on the Seine River
near Paris. In these small works, Monet's quick daubs of fresh colors aptly capture the movement of the water and gaiety of the scene.
Despite his father's disapproval, in 1870 Monet married Camille, who had already borne him a son. To escape the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), during which German
troops threatened Paris, the couple went to London, then to Holland. They returned in 1872 and settled in Argenteuil, a sailing center on the Seine River outside Paris. Monet painted numerous vibrant, light-filled views of this fast-growing suburban town; he also produced more intimate family studies.
painters who became known as impressionists began exhibiting together in 1874. They held eight exhibitions between 1874 and 1886, and although Monet did not participate in all of these, he became the most celebrated member of the group, and remains so today.
In the 1874 exhibition,
Monet showed four pastels and five paintings, among them a work entitled Impression: Sunrise (1872-1873, Mus?e Marmottan, Paris). Inspired by this title, French art critic Louis Leroy coined the term impressionist in a satirical review of the exhibition. His comments criticized the artists for painting
so loosely and neglecting to blend their brushstrokes carefully in order to achieve the polished effect that was then expected. Although Impression: Sunrise is an elegantly balanced composition, it demonstrates much of what was radically new about the impressionist manner. Monet's swift strokes
capture a momentary effect of light on water in a busy port, while mist and smoke blur the angular forms of sailboats.
Monet's first wife, Camille, died in 1879, and soon afterward Monet set up home with Alice Hosched?, the wife of one of his most important patrons, and their respective children.
The Hosched? family had recently suffered a disastrous bankruptcy, and financial concerns seem to have directed many of Monet's career strategies in the years that followed.
In 1880 Monet decided, to the great annoyance of his fellow impressionists, to exhibit once again at the official Salon.
He also began to sell his work regularly through private dealers. Monet traveled throughout France during the 1880s, tackling new and challenging motifs, such as the rocks off the island of Belle ?le, the stormy Atlantic coast, and the more idyllic atmosphere of the Mediterranean seacoast.
Monet had painted a series of works that capture the smoke-filled Saint Lazare railway station in Paris at different times of day. In the 1890s Monet returned to this idea of a concentrated series of paintings based on a single motif. In his series of Haystacks, begun in 1890, the rather ordinary
subject matter allowed Monet to emphasize subtle changes in light and weather conditions. Each painting has such an individual character that the series also seems to chart Monet's shifting feelings in front of nature. In 1891 French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel showed 15 of the Haystack paintings in
his Paris gallery.
Monet followed the Haystacks with a Rouen Cathedral series (1892-1894). With their heavy encrustations of paint that capture flickering light and shadow, the works challenged accepted understandings of impressionism. The cathedral fa?ade virtually dissolves, and an objective
rendering no longer seems to be Monet's goal. With this series, critics began to relate Monet's work to the symbolist movement, in which artists used color to achieve a highly individual and subjective interpretation of a scene.
Gardens were a recurrent theme for Monet in the 1870s, and paintings
of his own garden dominate his later work. In 1890 he purchased a house in Giverny that he had been renting for seven years. He began to develop its gardens, introducing an ornamental lily pond and a Japanese-style bridge. These and other features of his idyllic estate were the subject of a steady
output of large decorative paintings. He generally began by painting outdoors, but would then return to his studio to work and rework his canvases, which had become even more layered and complex than before.
Despite frequent periods of financial anxiety, Monet never lacked buyers for his work, and
by the 1890s his sales were strong, especially in the United States. The culminating honor of Monet's career was the installation in the Orangerie des Tuileries, a museum in central Paris, of monumental paintings of water lilies, on which he had worked for more than a decade preceding his death. In
these works reality seems to dematerialize as he expresses the interplay of color, light, foliage, and reflection in a tangled mass of brushstrokes. With his eyesight beginning to fail in his final years, Monet explored his subject so closely and thoroughly that the whole dissolved into its parts
and began to resemble abstract art.
Belinda Thomson, B.A., M.A.
Tutor, Department of Fine Art, University of Edinburgh. Author of The Post-Impressionists and other books.
"Monet, Claude Oscar," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2001
Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Amsterdam : Painting Quickly in France, 1869-1890
Bergen : Visions of Nature from Le Petit Palais in Paris
Brisbane : Monet, Russel and Matisse in Brittany
Brisbane : Renoir to Picasso, Masterpieces from the Musee de l’Orangerie
Buffalo : The Triumph of French Painting
Canberra : Monet and Japanese Art
Dayton : The Triumph of French Painting. Masterpieces from Ingres to Matisse
Denver : Six Centuries of European Painting from Tintoretto to Picasso and Balthus
Fort Worth : Six Centuries of European Painting from Tintoretto to Picasso and Balthus
Hamburg : Picasso, Beckmann, Nolde and Modernity
Las Vegas : Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings from the Hermitage and Guggenheim Museums
London : German Masters and French Impressionists of the 19th and early 20th century at the National Gallery
Munich : The Rau collection featuring masterpieces from Fra Angelico to Bonnard
New York : The Annenberg Collection of Impressionist and Postimpressionist Masterpieces
Portland : Six Centuries of European Painting from Tintoretto to Picasso and Balthus
Sydney : Renoir to Picasso, Masterpieces from the Musee de l’Orangerie
Washington : German Masters and French Impressionists of the 19th and early 20th century
Washington : Impressionist Still Life
click for full size
| Title: ||Camille Monet on her Deathbed|
| Medium: ||1879, dimensions 90?68cm, Oil on canvas|
| Exhibited at: ||Musee d'Orsay|
| Title: ||Cliffs near Dieppe|
| Medium: ||1882, dimensions 65?81cm, Oil on canvas|
| Exhibited at: ||Kunsthaus Zurich|
| Title: ||Clifftop Walk at Pourville|
| Medium: ||1882, dimensions 66?82cm, Oil on canvas|
| Exhibited at: ||Art Institute of Chicago|
| Title: ||Le pont de l'Europe, Gare Saint Lazare|
| Medium: ||1877, dimensions 64?81cm, Oil on canvas|
| Exhibited at: ||Musee Marmottan|
| Title: ||Madame Monet in Japanese Costume|
| Medium: ||1875, dimensions 231?142cm, Oil on canvas|
| Exhibited at: ||Boston Museum of Fine Arts|
| Title: ||Monet's Garden at Argenteuil|
| Medium: ||1873, dimensions 61?82cm, Oil on canvas|
| Exhibited at: ||Private collection|
28 Records Found!