Claude Monet

“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.”


Claude Oscar Monet was born in 1840 in Paris France.  As many artists were, and still are, Claude Monet was an outcast from his family. He did not go into the family grocery business as his father wanted, his family did not support his dreams to become an artist.  They said he would not succeed, they disinherited him multiple times.  Monet, of course, knew otherwise.  He went to school as his family made him, and doodled in the margins of his books and notes.  He became known in school for his caricatures of teachers, and made a business out of it by taking requests.  His caricatures were shown in windows of frame shops alongside the seascapes of Boudin.  Boudin introduced Monet to “en plein air” oil painting outdoors, which was the technique Edouard Manet was using at the times as well.  It was then that Monet began to appreciate what nature has to offer.  Monet attended classes with Gleyre in 1962 and there met Roudin, Bazille, and Sisley.  As he told it, the young artists revolted and began practicing impressionism together.  Impressionism is the separation of colors so that from far away the picture is beautiful, but up close you might not even be able to tell what you are looking at.  Impressionism is what Monet is known for around the world.  In the beginning of this period of Monet’s life (1866) he painted “the woman in the green dress” “La femme à la robe verte” which was of his, soon to be, wife Camille Doncieux.  Both Boudin and Monet were influenced by Jongkind over the years, who Monet credits as his true master.  In 1872 Monet painted “impression sunrise” “impression, soleil levant”, which was displayed in the first impressionist exhibit in 1874.  Impressionism came from this title via an art critic who meant it as an insult; however the term was embraced by the artists. Over the years Camille and Claude had two sons, Jean and Michel, but the second birth affected Camille’s health and she died soon after in 1879. With the death of Camille began Claude’s series paintings.  He documented the French countryside with series of paintings of landscapes and seascapes.  Claude and his sons made an extended family with the family of Alice Hoschedé, whose daughter Blanche married Jean Monet.  Alice later became Claude’s second wife.  The family then moved to Giverny, by this time Monet’s works were selling so well that they bought the house and land surrounding it and built an art studio and amazing gardens.  Monet was the designer of his gardens, which he depicts in many paintings.  The best known of all of Monet’s works are probably the series of water lilies and the series of the japonese bridge, which were done in Giverny.  Near the end of his life, Monet’s second son, Michel served in the French military during WWI.  Monet painted a series of weeping willows as recognition for the fallen French soldiers. Cataracts changed the way Monet saw colors to more reddish, and then after surgery to possibly be able to see more color than the rest of us.  In 1926 Monet died of lung cancer, and was buried at Giverny.  Monet’s home there is now restored and open for tourists.


Report by AH


About mlleminor

Instructor in MCL French Division at the University of Kentucky
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