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Claude Monet Biography

September 28, 2015

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You've probably heard of impressionism; it is an art movement, prevalent in the 19th century, characterized by an emphasis on light, movement, and the capture of ordinary subject matter (especially landscapes but also people). Perhaps the most well-known impressionist artist is the man who coined the term (in the name of a painting): Claude Monet. 

This is Claude Monet, photographed in 1899. This is Claude Monet, photographed in 1899. Courtesy of Nadar

Early Life

Monet was born in Paris in November of 1840. He moved to Normandy when he was five years old, and it was there that he began to experiment with his artistic talents. He was known around town for being a caricature artist, and in his early years he also studied "en plein air" (outdoor) painting techniques. Monet returned to Paris in his early twenties, where he continued to work on his art, and where he married and had a son. Throughout this part of his life he lived in constant poverty and was said to be frustrated with himself, his work, and the art scene at the time. 

This painting, Le Havre, is an early example of Monet's work. This painting, Le Havre, is an early example of Monet's work.

Impressionism

For most of Monet's life, the western European art scene was dominated by the Paris Salon, an exhibition at which artists showed their art. In order to have work displayed at the Salon, though, a jury to approve the work. Monet and other impressionists suffered under this system; the jury did not appreciate impressionist art and Monet's work was often denied entrance. In 1874, Monet and a group of other impressionists, including Renoir and Degas, set up their own exhibition to showcase their work. Though not all the paintings sold, this was an opportunity for the public to view this new art movement. 

Impression, Sunrise is the painting whose name inspired the "impressionism" title.Impression, Sunrise is the painting whose name inspired the "impressionism" title.

Later Life

Monet completed many of his most famous paintings in the late 19th century, though, as a result of his wife's death in 1879, his personal life was difficult. By the mid-1880s, Monet had settled down in northern France and began a new passion: gardening. Many of his well-known paintings reflect his passion for his garden, including the famed water lilies series. Monet continued to focus his artistic efforts on his garden landscape well in to the 1900s. Monet died of lung cancer in 1926. 

Water Lilies and the Japanese Bridge is a beautiful example of Monet's garden paintings. Water Lilies and the Japanese Bridge is a beautiful example of Monet's garden paintings.

Modern Fame

It's hard to imagine that Monet could ever have lived in poverty, unappreciated by the art world, considering how revered his art is today. Just to give you an example, in 2008 a Monet painting sold at auction for over $70,000,000! Today, you can find many of Monet's paintings in museums around the world, including the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the National Gallery in London

Water Lily Pond sold for over 70 million dollars at auction!Water Lily Pond sold for over 70 million dollars at auction!

Have Your say!

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