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Claude Monet: Works of Art and Life of Impressionist Painter

Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood

Claude Oscar Monet
Nov 14, 1840 - Dec 5, 1926

        Claude Oscar Monet was a famous French landscapist. He was one of the first and most consistent impressionists. In particular, the title of his painting: "Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant)", 1873 has given the name to the largest and the most vivid art movement of the XIX Century, which was Impressionism.

        "Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love."
- Claude Monet.

Timeline: Claude Monet Works of Art and Life

1840 - Birth of Claude Monet

        Claude Oscar Monet (Oscar-Claude Monet) was born in Paris, France, on November 14, 1840, to a family of a prosperous grocer.

1845 - Childhood Years

        When Claude was five years old, his family moved to Le Havre, a large port in the northwest of France. This is how sea and city entered the life of the future painter, and in many respects predetermined the themes of Claude Monet paintings.

1858 - Acquaintance with Eugène Boudin

        Monet got acquainted with living in Le Havre Eugène Boudin, whose refined and original art (in many respects anticipated impressionism) was neither famous nor popular at that time. Monet and Boudin were sketching together etudes in the suburbs of Le Havre. Working with an excellent landscapist opened Claude's eyes on the beauty of the nature. From Boudin's lessons of plein-air landscape painting, Claude Monet Impressionism was later born.

1859 - Study at Suisse Academy

        Driven by the desire to become a professional painter, young Claude moved to Paris, where he briefly attended Suisse Academy (from May 1859 to the middle of 1860). Monet was hungrily absorbing new impressions; he familiarized himself with works of Corot and Barbizon painters in Salon exhibitions. Claude made new friends, one of whom, Camille Pissarro, also became a famous Impressionist painter.

1861 - Acquaintance with Johan Barthold Jongkind

        Monet joined the army and served in Algeria; however, soon he became ill and was demobilized. After the army service, Claude moved back to the parents' house in Le Havre. This time he met Johan Barthold Jongkind, a Dutch painter who spent most of his life in France. Together with Boudin, Jongkind completely shaped the basis of Monet's art culture.

1862 - Earliest Claude Monet Paintings

        Claude Monet moved to Paris once again, where he was taking painting lessons from Charles Gleyre (a painter with conservative - academic views on art). To this time (1862 - 1864) belong the earliest of the survived Claude Monet works of art: "Corner of the Studio", 1861 and "Hunting Trophy", 1862. In the Gleyre's studio, Monet met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean Frédéric Bazille and Alfred Sisley; together they visited The Louvre and acquainted themselves with paintings of Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet. Monet and his friends were impressed by the confidence with which Manet and Courbet were stating the right of painters for original thinking, refusal of any desire to be liked by observers, the quest for their own ways in art.

1865 - Claude Monet Works of Art First Success

        In 1865, Monet achieved his first success: two of his paintings ("The Cape de la Hève at Low Tide", 1865 and "Mouth of the Seine at Honfleur", 1865) were accepted by the Paris Salon and approved by critics. For the 1866 exhibition in the Salon, Claude presented a portrait of Camille (his future wife) which he created in only four days: "The Woman in the Green Dress", 1866. The painting was very successful in the exhibition as well. In the summer of 1866, Monet was working in Sainte-Adresse, near Le Havre where his parents had a small house. In the painting "Garden at Sainte-Adresse", 1866, Claude depicted his family.

1870 - Marriage with Camille Doncieux; Acquaintance with Paul Durand-Ruel

        Not a long time before Franco-Prussian War (1870 - 1871), Monet married Camille Doncieux, from whom he had already had his son Jean. They moved to Trouville, a resort town on the shore of Normandy. There, he painted a few paintings portraying Camille on the beach background (e.g., "On the Beach at Trouville", 1870). During the war, Monet lived in London and studied the works of Constable and Turner. Claude got acquainted with Paul Durand-Ruel, an influential French picture dealer. This acquaintance played a major role not only in the biography of Claude Monet but also in the history of Impressionism; Durand-Ruel believed in the new direction in art and was first to acquire Claude Monet works and works of his friends. London was the theme for a few of Claude Monet paintings (e.g., "The Thames below Westminster", 1871). Monet returned to the depiction of London fogs much later (e.g., "Houses of Parliament, London, Sun Breaking through the Fog", 1904), but the motive that imparted unreality and a certain mystery to the city, remained for Monet the most attractive.

1872 - Argenteuil Years

        After visiting Holland (where Monet created about 25 paintings in his Holland Cycle e.g., "Windmill and Boats near Zaandam", 1871 (1872)), the artist has settled in Argenteuil, a small town near Paris, with his family. Argenteuil became a continuous source of inspiration for Claude Monet, for almost ten years. It is commonly accepted to think that the first famous Monet's painting series were the seven types of the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris (e.g., "Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare", 1877). However, series as a serial variation of a single theme already appeared in the early Argenteuil period. For example, Monet had painted four times the same alley along the banks of Seine River in diverse light and weather conditions (i.e., "Le Bassin d'Argenteuil", 1872). Often, Monet was painting together with his friend Pierre-Auguste Renoir (who was visiting him in Argenteuil) sailing regattas (e.g., "The Regatta at Argenteuil", 1872), the favorite entertainment of Parisians.

1873 - Creation of "Impression, Sunrise"

        During his short visit to Le Havre, in the spring of 1873, Claude Monet created a few paintings, among which - the famous Sunrise in Le Havre. This landscape painting, appearing on the first in history Impressionist Exhibition a year later (named as: "Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant)" had played a historical role: it gave the name to the exhibition and to the entire art movement. Themes of Claude Monet works in 1873 were very diverse: he painted his family in a summer garden, views of the Siena banks (e.g., "Lilacs in the Sun", 1873 and "Autumn Effect at Argenteuil", 1873).

1874 - First Impressionist Exhibition

        Years of successful work of Monet and his friends did not improve their relations with the official Salon - in opposite, the relations between them became openly inimical. From the beginning of 1870-es, almost all of the works of art of young masters were rejected by the members of Salon's jury committee. To escape this isolation and propose their art to the wide public, Claude Monet decided to accomplish the idea proposed by Jean Frédéric Bazille at the end of 1860-es: to organize an independent exhibition of like-minded painters. This exhibition had opened on April 15, 1874 under the title of Anonymous Co-operative Society of Artists, in the studio of photographer Nadar (pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), on the Capucines boulevard. Thirty painters were participating in this exhibition, presenting 160 paintings. Among those works, ten were belonging to Claude Monet, including the "Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant)", 1873 and the "Boulevard des Capucines", which the artist painted from the window of the Nadar's studio in the autumn of 1873.

1876 - Acquaintance with Hoschedé

        Claude Monet had become close friends with the family of a Parisian businessman Ernest Hoschedé and spent the autumn of 1876 in his house in Montgeron. During this time, Monet created four large decorative panels (e.g., "Corner of the Garden at Montgeron", 1876) by the Hoschedé's request. In these works we can notice somewhat flat spatial resolution - an influence of Japanese art (Claude favored Japanese art from a young age, and its influence is notable in many of the Claude Monet works of art; e.g., "Madame Monet in a Japanese Costume (La Japonaise)", 1876).

1879 - Death of Camille

        From the autumn of 1878, Monet rented a house in the town Vétheuil, together with family of Ernest Hoschedé who went bankrupt. To escape his debts, Ernest Hoschedé had fled to Belgium. After a prolonged illness, Camille Monet died, leaving Claude with his two sons. Monet's heavy emotional experience had saddened his first year in Vétheuil, and had marked dusky, melancholic winter landscapes of that time (e.g., "Snow Effect at Vétheuil", 1878). Financial situation of the painter had dramatically worsened after the death of his wife: multi-children family was left in his hands - two of Monet's children were raised together with five of the children of Alice Hoschedé, who became a second mother for them (Officially Monet married Alice in 1892). Only after the arrangement of a personal exhibition in 1879, with the support of Durand-Ruel, Monet finally achieved financial independence. Since then, Claude Monet was free from selling his works, and wholly devoted his time to art.

1884 - Claude Monet Works of Art in Italy; House in Giverny

        During January - March of 1884, Monet depicted Ventimiglia (e.g., "View of Ventimiglia", 1884) and Bordighera (e.g., "Bordighera", 1884) towns, in Italian Riviera near French border. Claude returned from Italy to Giverny, where a year earlier he had bought a house with a garden for his big family. In this quiet place, Claude Monet spent the second half of his life. Looking for new themes, the painter often traveled to the northern and western coasts of France. Notably often Monet painted deserted, dramatic landscapes (e.g., "Rocks at Port-Goulphar, Belle-Ile", 1886).

1891 - Famous Claude Monet Painting Series

        Monet created approximately twenty canvases, depicting poplars in the valley of the river Epte (e.g., "Poplars on the Epte", 1891). In contrast with his Stack of Wheat series (e.g., "Stack of Wheat (Snow Effect, Overcast Day)", 1891), Monet was constantly changing the point of view, distance from viewers and the angle of spatial location of the landscape. In the beginning of year 1892, during his short visit to Rouen, Monet had discovered a new motif which had became the matter of maybe the most famous and consistent of his painting series. During two years, Monet was painting Rouen Cathedral, and in May of 1895, twenty of the canvases depicting the Rouen Cathedral in different time of the day (e.g., "Rouen Cathedral, West Façade", 1894) were presented in an exhibition organized by Durand-Ruel.

1899 - "Water-Lily Pond" Painting Series

        Claude Monet was focused on the depiction of a garden with a pond (the famous pond with water lilies), which he arranged himself close to his house in Giverny. During the years 1897 - 1899, Monet had painted a series of 13 paintings showing the pond with white water lilies (e.g., "Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies", 1899). These paintings had become a prolog to the grandiose cycle of Claude Monet works of art: Nympheas, which occupied more than twenty remaining years of his life.

1909 - "Nympheas" Painting Series; Late Claude Monet Works of Art

        By the year of 1909, Claude Monet had already finished 48 of the Nympheas paintings (e.g., "Water Lilies", 1906). The size of these canvases did not exceed one meter in width at the time; however, after the year 1912, the format of these water sceneries was growing bigger and bigger in size. Altogether, Monet had created approximately 250 paintings in the Nympheas cycle. Prolonged and scrupulous examination of the lights and colors during his work had dramatically deteriorated Monet's eyesight. In 1923, Claude Monet underwent an eye surgery and had to stop his work for a while. Maybe, because of the changed sense of color during that period, Monet performed couple of his late works in an unusual destructive style (e.g., "The Japanese Bridge", 1923 - 1925). Claude Monet died on December 5, 1926, at the age of 86.

Suggested Reading

Isaacson, Joel. "Observation and Reflection: Claude Monet".
E. P. Dutton, New York, NY, 1978.

Rewald, John. "The History of Impressionism".
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, 1973.

Wildenstein, Daniel. "Monet: Catalogue Raisonne".
Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1996.

Claude Monet Paintings: