Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Claude Monet

Claude Monet was a renowned impressionist painter, born November 14, 1840. He grew up in Paris and completed many of his paintings in France, but also traveled to different places including England and Holland for inspiration. His parents called him Oscar, but he later signed off on his artwork with Claude Monet instead. He married his mistress, Camille, on June 9, 1870 right before the Franco-Prussian war which broke out on July 19, 1870. To avoid war, Monet left France and moved to England instead. He had two sons, Jean and Michel with Camille, but she died shortly after the birth of their second son. Monet died at the age of 86, on December 5, 1926 from lung cancer.

As a young boy, his talent was recognized by his charcoal caricatures which he sold to his parents, teachers, and students. Through these caricatures, Monet made a name for himself within his community. They demonstrate his recognition of detail and his interest in people. Much of his early sketches as a child were of his surrounding landscape near his home which is not surprising at all given his interest in landscape painting later in his life.

His Impressions started during the 1860s, as he began to sell his paintings, called ponchades, esquisses, or etudes. The painter, Eugene Boudoin was like a teacher and mentor to Monet, early on, as he guided him to draw from nature. Monet stands out from all other impressionists because of incorporation of light and his style of incorporating various different brushstrokes within his paintings and especially for his landscape works of art. This was one of the reasons that I choose to research Claude Monet, because of his vivid descriptions of nature and the energy that he gives to all of his works. He is able to capture the emotions of his surroundings. As an impressionist, Monet practiced the style of en plein air, a French term that means in the open air. It is a technique in which an artist paints outside instead of somewhere indoors, such as a studio He concentrated the majority of his artwork on the persistently shifting relationships between the sky, water, and land. As most impressionists did, Monet’s pieces were usually painted quite quickly, sort of in a rough manner, but I feel that this technique helps contribute to the emotions that are within the paintings. Many of his works were developed within a series to capture the landscape as it is viewed. It is difficult to paint nature because is it continually changing from the moving sun as well as the weather, so he created many pictures of the same landscape to show this.

Caricature of Philibert Audebrand

This is one of Monet’s early caricatures of his teachers. He displays his humorous side by poking fun at his subjects.

Impression, Sunrise

This painting depicts the port of Le Havre when he came back to visit his home after the Franco-Prussian War. The heavy machinery that was a part of a project during the war is evident. Monet intensifies the piece through the painting of the sunrise with heightened color and broken brushwork. This painting has mistakenly been associated with coining the term Impressionists, due to the title of it, but it is incorrect. The name came about not only from Monet, but from the whole group of artists that took up this style.

Water Lilies

This is one of his paintings that are part of the Water Lilies series. He focuses on the combination of the sky, water, and the reflection of the trees that are within the landscape using vivid colors.


· Brettell, Richard R. Impressionism: Painting quickly in France 1860-1890. Yale University Press. New Haven and London. 2000.

· Rey, Jean Dominique and Rouart, Denis. Monet Water Lilies. Flammarion. Paris. 2008.

· Tucker, Paul Hayes. Claude Monet: Life and Art. Yale University Press. New Haven and London. 1995.

· Claude Monet Art and History.

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