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CLAUDE MONET

(November 14, 1840 – December 5th, 1926)

 

 

“My only merit lies in having painted directly in front of nature,

seeking to render my impressions of the most fleeting effects."

 

 

It was a painting by Monet, “Impression, soleil levant”, which gave rise to an art critic’s sneer that all the works at the 1874 Paris Independent Artists’ exhibition, were impressionist, ie. more concerned with form and light, than with realism. Monet, a co-creator of this new Impressionist art movement, sought to give us a snapshot of his view of the natural world, using swiftly brushed strong colours to enliven figures and landscapes.

 

Born Oscar-Claude Monet in Paris, he spent his childhood in Le Havre.  It was here that he met a local artist, Eugene Boudin, who became his mentor, teaching him to paint with oils ‘en plein air’. Thus his formative landscape training began. He followed it with a spell at the Academie Suisse in Paris, where he befriended Camille Pisarro. After a 2 year stint in the army, Monet continued on his artistic path in Paris, in the company of Renoir, Manet, Sisley and Bazille.

 

        

        

 

     

Escape from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1 took him to London, along with  other artists including Pisarro, and the art dealer who was to provide huge support to the impressionist art movement, Paul Durand-Ruel. Monet returned to London at the turn of the century to create his series of paintings of the Houses of Parliament.  More series were to follow. 

 

In 1883 Monet took a house in Giverney, where he created his garden, lily ponds and Japanese Bridge, which would later become the subject of his best known works. A series of around 250 paintings followed, each differing from the other, depending on the light, mood and changing seasons. His series of Haystacks paintings was created within a few miles of Giverney - again, it was not so much the subject of the painting that was important, but the way in which the atmospheric changes in the natural world affected the image. 

 

"I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."

 

Monet died at his beloved Giverney in 1926 at the age of 86. 40 years later, his son Michel bequeathed the property to the Academie des Beaux-arts and the collection of his father’s paintings to the Musee Marmottan Monet.

 

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