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Claude Monet

French Painter

Movement: Impressionism

Born: November 14, 1840 - Paris, France

Died: December 5, 1926 - Giverny, France

Important Art by Claude Monet

The below artworks are the most important by Claude Monet - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.


Women in the Garden (1866-67)

Artwork description & Analysis: Women in the Garden was painted at Ville d'Avray using his future wife Camille as the only model. The goal of this large-scale work (100" by 81"), while meticulously composed, was to render the effects of true outdoor light, rather than regard conventions of modeling or drapery. From the flickers of sunlight that pierce the foliage of the trees to delicate shadows and the warm flesh tones that can be seen through her sleeve, Monet details the behavior of natural light in the scene. In January 1867, his friend and fellow Impressionist Frederic Bazille purchased the work for the sum of 2,500 francs in order to help Monet out of the extreme debt that Monet was suffering from at the time.

Oil on canvas - Musée d'Orsay, Paris


Westminster Bridge (aka The Thames below Westminster) (1871)

Artwork description & Analysis: Painted on the Embankment in London, Monet's Westminster Bridge is one of the finest examples of his work during the time he and his family were in wartime refuge. This simple, asymmetrical composition is balanced by the horizontal bridge, the boats floating upon the waves with the vertical wharf and ladder in the foreground. The entire scene is dominated by a layer of mist containing violet, gold, pink, and green, creating a dense atmosphere that renders the architecture in distant, blurred shapes.

Oil on canvas - The National Gallery, London

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Boulevard des Capucines (1873)

Artwork description & Analysis: Boulevard des Capucines captures a scene of the hustle and bustle of Parisian life from the studio of Monet's friend, the photographer Felix Nadar. Applying very little detail, Monet uses short, quick brushstrokes to create the "impression" of people in the city alive with movement. Critic Leroy was not pleased with these abstracted crowds, describing them as "black tongue-lickings." Monet painted two views from this location, with this one looking towards the Place de l'Opera. The first Impressionist exhibition was held in Nadar's studio, and rather appropriately, Monet included this piece in the show.

Oil on canvas - Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City


Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son (1875)

Artwork description & Analysis: One of Monet's most popular figure paintings, Lady with a Parasol showcases the women's accessory. The parasol itself makes many appearances in his work, primarily because when painting from real life outdoors, most women would use one to protect their skin and eyes. But the object also creates a contrast of light and shadows on the figure's face and clothing, indicating which direction the actual light is coming from. Quite uniquely, Monet paints into the light letting the model's features fade into the shadow. Most artists would avoid such a positioning of their subject as it is difficult to reproduce any detail - and even hard to simply look at your subject. But Monet is interested in light itself, and captures it in the scene in an unmatched way.

Oil on canvas - The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of June 30th, 1878 (1878)

Artwork description & Analysis: Historians and scientists believe that Monet happened upon discoveries in vision and optics. For example, professor Ian Aaronson believes that Monet was endowed with hyper-sensitive visual abilities where he could notice things that most people would miss. For example, in this work Monet if one were to look at the way the flags themselves are painted, they look quite blurry and unclear. But if one were to look down at the crowd, and use their peripheral vision to look at the flags, they seem to wave (best to try this on the real painting, not a reproduction). As in this example, Monet seems to have come upon several particularities of vision, and painterly effects, that were not properly prooved by science for many years after his death.

Oil on canvas - Musée d'Orsay, Paris


Rouen Cathedral: The Facade at Sunset (1894)

Artwork description & Analysis: Monet's Rouen Cathedral: The Facade at Sunset series is one of his most renowned. He painted the cathedral at different times of day to explore the effects of different light during winter. The burnt orange and blue appearance of the cathedral dominates the canvas, with only scattered views of sky at the top. Layered over the top of the Gothic structure, the brushstrokes play with the light and atmosphere on the stones, and the details on their carved surfaces. In 1895, he exhibited twenty Cathedrals at the Durand-Ruel Gallery that were both criticized and praised by viewers that either struggled or championed his artistic, scientific, and poetic innovations. As art historian Madalena Dabrowski wrote: "the site is [only] a reference point, but is transformed and conditioned by light, color, and Monet's own vision."

Painting in a series, or making any kind of artwork with subtle changes from one piece to the next has been a staple of modern art for many artists, from Andy Warhol to the Minimalists, to Conceptual artists. Not only has it been a way for artists to explore subtle difference between subjects, but some artists reference Monet directly in their series works.

Oil on canvas - Museums of Fine Arts, Boston


Water Lilies (1915-1926)

Artwork description & Analysis: The Nymphéas cycle is a part of Monet's water landscape group that he started working on in the late 1890s. As explained on the Musée de l'Orangerie website: the word nymphéa comes from the Greek word numphé, meaning nymph, which takes its name from the Classical myth that attributes the birth of the flower to a nymph who was dying of love for Hercules. In fact, it is also a scientific term for a water lily.

This overall series occupied Monet until his death 30 years later and includes dozens of canvases creating a panorama of water, lilies, and sky in his studio inspired by his Giverny garden. The most famous of this series are the eight large panels of Water Lillies that are installed in two eliptical rooms of the L'Orangerie museum in Paris.

Monet describes his goals for the project: "Imagine a circular room, whose walls are entirely filled by a horizon of water spotted with these plants. Walls of transparency - sometimes green, sometimes verging on mauve. The silence and calm of the water reflecting the flowering display; the tones are vague, deliciously nuanced, as delicate as a dream."

The ultimate installation is considered to be one of the great achievement of Monet, Impressionism, and even twentieth century art. The lighting and setup in the museum maximizes the viewers experience next to these works, providing, as Monet said, an "illusion of an endless whole, of a wave with no horizon and no shore". These works would be enormously influencial for many artists, but the all over composition would particularly inspire the Abstract Expressionist large-scale canvases of The New York School.

Oil on canvas - Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris



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Related Art and Artists


The Wave (1870)

Artist: Gustave Courbet

Artwork description & Analysis: Many early Modernists were influenced by Japanese prints and it is argued that Courbet is one of the first to be affected by this Eastern aesthetic. Likely, taking a cue from the prints, he shows us a slice of water closed off from the view of vast space. The painting epitomizes Courbet's landscapes and seascapes that were always composed of broken patches of paint loaded in both the dark and light areas. Such painterly treatment was inspiration to the budding Impressionists.

Oil on canvas - The Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur, Germany


Boating (1874)

Artist: Édouard Manet

Artwork description & Analysis: Manet painted many works based on his visits to Argenteuil where he and Renoir often visited Monet. The flatness of the background was created by filling its entirety with water, making the boat's shape the painting's only sense of space. Manet often took advantage of the light on the river Seine early in the morning, on his "floating studio" specifically built for this purpose. Evidence of the influence of his Impressionist friends can be seen in the quick, fluid brushstrokes of the woman's dress.

Oil on canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


La Grenouillère (1869)

Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Artwork description & Analysis: At the popular outdoor bathing spot and bar La Grenouillère ("The Frog Pond"), Renoir and Monet, not yet financially successful artists, painted images of middle-class leisure that they hoped to sell to its wealthy clientele. As they worked closely alongside one another, the two simultaneously developed several of the theories, techniques, and practices that would give rise to Impressionism. Both artists painted this scene from this exact vantage point. If Monet's gives a broader perspective and focuses more on the vivid effects of light on the water and surrounding trees, then Renoir's version gives a closer view of the fashionable denizens of the popular resort. Indeed, even when painting nature en plein air, Renoir gave a weight to the human subject perhaps unmatched by his fellow Impressionists.

Oil on canvas - Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

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Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet was a French painter and chief figure in the Realist movement of the mid-nineteenth century. His paintings often contained an emotional bleakness, and were praised for their precision and use of light. Along with Delacroix, Courbet was a key influence on the Impressionists.
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Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet was a French painter and a prominent figure in the mid-nineteenth-century Realist movement of French art. Manet's paintings are considered among the first works of art in the modern era, due to his rough painting style and absence of idealism in his figures. Manet was a close friend of and major influence on younger artists who founded Impressionism such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
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Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the leading figures of French Impressionism during the late-nineteenth century. Renoir tended to favor outdoor scenes, gardens bathed in sunlight, and large gatherings of people. Known as a master of light, shadow and color, Renoir was also highly esteemed for his depiction of natural movement on the canvas. In terms of the French Impressionists' lasting popularity and fame, Renoir is perhaps second only to Monet.
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Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism
A movement in painting that first surfaced in France in the 1860s, it sought new ways to describe effects of light and movement, often using rich colors. The Impressionists were drawn to modern life and often painted the city, but they also captured landscapes and scenes of middle-class leisure-taking in the suburbs.
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Eugéne Boudin
Eugéne Boudin
Eugéne Boudin
Eugéne Boudin was a French marine and landscape painter who worked primarily in the second half of the nineteenth century. His reputation steadily grew throughout his long career, eventually being awarded the Legion of Honor in 1892. His plein air method of working had a significant influence on the young Monet and consequently the Impressionist movement.
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Jean-Francois Millet
Jean-Francois Millet
Jean-Francois Millet
Jean-Francois Millet was a Realist painter in nineteenth-century France, and a founder of the Barbizon School. He is especially known for his depictions rural life and peasant labor.
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J.M.W. Turner
J.M.W. Turner
J.M.W. Turner
J.M.W. Turner (Joseph Mallord William Turner) was a mid-nineteenth-century British painter and watercolorist. Considered a key forerunner to the French Impressionists and the American Hudson River School of painters, Turner is known in history as "the painter of light." His trademark land- and sea-scapes are categorized as Romantic and Naturalist, given the artist's expressive and poetic application of natural light. Turner was among the last great pre-modern painters.
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Frédéric Bazille
Frédéric Bazille
Frédéric Bazille
Frédéric Bazille was an Impressionist and Realist painter who came from a wealthy background and was able to help his fellow artists, including Monet, Sisley, and Manet with money and materials. His career and life were cut short, dying in battle during the Franco-Prussian War at just 29 years old.
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Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
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Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet and art critic during the mid-nineteenth century. His poetry depicted the harsh realities of urban poverty in nineteenth-century Paris, and often focused on the flanuer (one who wanders the city to experience it). The Baudelarian idea of the flaneur is a lasting legacy of the modern era.
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Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley
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Alfred Sisley was an English Impressionist landscape painter who spent much of his life working in France. As an enthusiast of plein air painting, Sisley was among the group of artists that included Monet, Renoir and Pissarro who dedicated themselves to capturing the transient effects of sunlight. He was a true Impressionist and committed landscape painter who never deviated from this style or subject into figurative work like many of his contemporaries.
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Émile Zola
Émile Zola
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Émile Zola
Realism
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Neo-Classicism
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Neo-Classicism encompasses several distinct movements in the arts and architecture during the mid-1700s to the late 1800s that drew specifically on ancient Western cultures for inspiration. Looking back to the arts of Greece and Rome for ideal models and forms, both human and structural, Neo-Classicism was a category for literature and music as well as the visual arts. Jacques-Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres were the most iconic French Neo-Classic painters.
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Japonisme
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Japonisme describes the influence of Japanese art, especially woodblock prints, on French artists in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many Post-Impressionists were influenced by the flat blocks of color, the emphasis on design, and the simple, everyday subject matter.
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Vincent van Gogh
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Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
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Paul Cézanne was an influential French Post-Impressionist painter whose depictions of the natural world, based on internal geometric planes, paved the way for Cubism and later modern art movements.
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Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas was a French Impressionist painter, printmaker and sculptor with an extraordinarily long career from the mid-nineteenth century until after WWI. As one of the original group of Impressionists, although he preferred to be called a Realist, he traveled widely and employed the use of photography in his creative process. He is most renowned for his painting and drawings of ballet dancers in rehearsal and performances in the theatre.
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Georges Seurat
Georges Seurat
Georges Seurat
Georges-Pierre Seurat was a French painter who gave rise to the Post- and Neo-Impressionist artistic styles of the late nineteenth century. Seurat's greatest contribution to modern art was his development of Pointillism, a style of painting in which small dots of paint were applied to create a cohesive image. Combining the science of optics with painterly emotion, Pointillism evoked a visual harmony never before seen in modern art.
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Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
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Camille Pissarro was a French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painter. Known as the "Father of Impressionism," he used his own painterly style to depict urban daily life, landscapes, and rural scenes.
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Paul Durand-Ruel
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Paul Durand-Ruel was a French art dealer who became the first champion of the Impressionists. His gallery in Bond St showed Monet, Renoir and others to the art world of London, and then further afield in the United States. He was known to support his artists through solo exhibitions and stipends.
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Stéphane Mallarmé
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James Whistler
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Georges Clemenceau
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Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism
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Symbolism
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Pointillism
Pointillism
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Pointillism
Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism was an early twentieth-century art movement founded by Henri Matisse and André Derain. Labeled as "wild beasts", Fauve artists favored vibrant colors and winding gestural strokes across the canvas.
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