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Claude Monet

1840-1926

 

Claude Monet was the leader of the 19th-century impressionist art movement. He pursued its goals throughout his career. Monet preferred to paint directly from nature. His work shows his desire to capture the changing effects of light on canvas.

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Born in Paris, Monet spent his childhood in Le Havre. Later, he came back to Paris study art. He spent his time in a café visited by artists and intellectuals. Then, after serving in the military, he returned to Paris and entered the studio of Charles Gleyre, where he met Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Jean-Frédéric Bazille. Soon after, Monet led the others on an expedition to the Fontainebleau Forest, where he introduced them to open-air painting.

Monet and some of his friends decided to show their works to a group of exhibitors including Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Renoir, Sisley, and Camille Pissarro. The group became known as "impressionists," a term given by a critic who said that Monet's sketchy landscape 'Impression: Sunrise' reminded him of wallpaper. Although the exhibit attracted attention, none of the paintings were sold.

Monet began enjoying his financial success when a growing market for his works emerged. In the 1890s Monet painted several series of works - 'Haystacks', 'Poplars', and 'Rouen Cathedral' - in which he displayed a single scene again and again, in all its variations of light, shadow, and season.

Monet married Alice Hoschedé and settled at Giverny, where he created the beautiful water garden that appears in his later paintings. Monet traveled to London where he painted his Thames series, and then to Venice where he recorded the canals and palaces of that city in a series of paintings. Aside from these trips, Monet was content to remain at Giverny, where he continued painting until his death.

Impressionism, as Monet developed, sought to capture the fleeting, momentary aspects of nature, especially to convey the atmospheric effects of light. As he pursued this goal, his technique became increasingly free, causing critics to say that the paintings looked unfinished. Rather than mixing colors on his palette, Monet applied separate strokes of pure color directly to the canvas. This method produced a shimmering, vibrating effect that simulated the effects of natural light. In his last paintings, the 'Water Lilies', nature as a subject began to be less significant than color.

Sources:

    Copplestone, Trewin, Monet: The History and Techniques of the Great Masters, (Edisson, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1997)

    Heinrich, Christoph, Claude Monet 1840-1926, (San Diego, California, Thunder Bay Press, 1997)

    Kojj, Steven, Claude Monet, (Munich, New York, Prestel, 1996)

    Le Tord, Bijou, A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet, (New York, New York, Double Day Book for Young Readers, 1995)


Edited by: Tariq Hafeez, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
Researched by: Farooq Aukhan, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
Written by: Julius Ibrahim, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
29 May 1998

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