If someone were to ask me what my favorite artist was, I would undoubtadly say impressionist artist Claude Monet. Now some may say, “that’s a basic answer, everybody likes Monet,” and yeah many people like Monet but for me, I have always ben inspired by his work. His impressionist style, technique, and subject matter are all things that have not only influenced me as a person but has greatly influenced my own work as an artist.
Now for those of you who don’t know much about Claude Monet, I’ll give you a rundown on his life and work. Claude Monet or Oscar-Claude Monet was born in November of 1840 in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. His father was a wholesale merchant and his mother was a singer. He spent most of his childhood in Normandy where his family moved when he was five years old. He began to draw caricatures and portraits of people he knew at the age of fifteen for money and he began his first drawing lessons from artist Jacques-Francois Ochard. Later on he met fellow artist Eugene Boudin and he encouraged him to develop his techniques and taught him the “en plein air” techniques for painting. He thought of Boudin as his master, whom “he owed everything to.” After the death of his mother in 1857, he and his father went to live with his aunt. His aunt ended up being the source of support for his early art career.
He continued his studies in Paris and enrolled in the Swiss Academy. There he met Camille Pissarro, but not too long after, he was called to serve in Algeria. His time spent in Algeria would later influence his artistic style. After his return from Algeria, Monet decided to enroll in Charles Gleyre’s studio and began working with artists Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir, and Frederic Basille, all of whom became his close friends. He often painted alongside Renoir and Sisley, mostly because both shared his desire to set forth new standards of beauty in conventional subjects.
During this time, Monet painted his first successful large scale painting called Women in Garden and another painting called Le dejeuner sur l’herbe. Due to large praise of a previous piece at the Salon in 1865, he had hoped that Le dejeuner sur l’herbe would get him back into the Salon in 1866 but because he couldn’t finish it on time, he decided to submit a different piece called The Woman in the Green Dress. He submitted many works to the Salon but only two pieces were ever excepted. They considered his work to be radical, “discouraged at all official levels.”
Monet was married twice during his lifetime. He married his first wife, Camille Doncieux in 1870 just before the Franco-Prussian War. During the war, he and his family lived in London and the Netherlands to avoid being drafted. While living in London Monet befriended art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel who would later help in making Monet’s impressionist paintings known. In 1874, Monet, Manet and Renoir met in Argenteuil and held the first impressionist exhibition. That year would mark the height of the impressionist movement and would define Monet as one of its creators. The movement’s very first work was called, Impression, Rising Sun. The impressionists would produce six exhibitions until 1882, after that, they each began to go there different ways and some sold their work independently.
In 1879, Monet’s first wife Camille died of uterine cancer. He later made a study in oils of his late wife. Monet moved to Giverny with his then partner Alice Hoschedé in 1883 along with her six children from a marriage to Ernest Hoschedé and with two children from Monet’s marriage. They would officially get married in 1892.
The house in Giverny was perfect for Monet and his family. There was a barn that doubled as a painting studio, orchards and a small garden. The house was close enough to the local schools for the children to attend, and the surrounding landscape provided numerous natural areas for Monet to paint. The gardens and surrounding area would become Monet’s inspiration for many of his paintings that are today extremely famous today such as his Water Lilies Series. He did end up purchasing the house and built a greenhouse and a second studio later on. Monet died in his home at Giverny on December 5, 1926.
In my opinion, Monet was an amazing artist for his time. He basically gave Impressionism its name. He went against the conventional art style of the time to create something new and different. He sought to paint the passage of time, changes in weather, and depict basic subjects in a beautiful way and that’s exactly what he did. He went out, rain or shine into the world and painted from real life and I believe that is one of the best ways to paint even though it can be somewhat tricky for someone first starting out but hey practice does make perfect. Which reminds me of another thing Monet did, he would paint the same scenery different way. For example, he has many paintings of the Seine because every time he would back and paint, he saw something different each time. And I think that it really shows what a great artist he was if he could create something different each time he was looking at the same thing.