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The Art Story Homepage Artists Claude Monet
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Claude Monet

French Painter

Movements and Styles: Impressionism, Naturalism

Born: November 14, 1840 - Paris, France

Died: December 5, 1926 - Giverny, France

Claude Monet Timeline

"For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value."

Claude Monet Signature

Summary of Claude Monet

Claude Monet was the leader of the French Impressionist movement, literally giving the movement its name. As an inspirational talent and personality, he was crucial in bringing its adherents together. Interested in painting in the open air and capturing natural light, Monet would later bring the technique to one of its most famous pinnacles with his series paintings, in which his observations of the same subject, viewed at various times of the day, were captured in numerous sequences. Masterful as a colorist and as a painter of light and atmosphere, his later work often achieved a remarkable degree of abstraction, and this has recommended him to subsequent generations of abstract painters.

Key Ideas

Inspired in part by Édouard Manet, Monet departed from the clear depiction of forms and linear perspective, which were prescribed by the established art of the time, and experimented with loose handling, bold color, and strikingly unconventional compositions. The emphasis in his pictures shifted from representing figures to depicting different qualities of light and atmosphere in each scene.
In his later years, Monet also became increasingly sensitive to the decorative qualities of color and form. He began to apply paint in smaller strokes, building it up in broad fields of color, and exploring the possibilities of a decorative paint surface of harmonies and contrasts of color. The effects that he achieved, particularly in the series paintings of the 1890s, represent a remarkable advance towards abstraction and towards a modern painting focused purely on surface effects.
An inspiration and a leader among the Impressionists, he was crucial in attracting Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Édouard Manet and Camille Pissarro to work alongside each other in and around Paris. He was also important in establishing the exhibition society that would showcase the group's work between 1874 and 1886.
Detail of <i>Garden at Giverny</i> (1900) by Claude Monet
Detail of Garden at Giverny (1900) by Claude Monet

From the theoretical and critical battles with the emerging Impressionists in Paris, to the later love of spending his time outdoors studying light, Monet was driven all his life by his passions. As he said "I am good at only two things, and those are gardening and painting."

Important Art by Claude Monet Important Art and Analysis

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)
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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 his model's 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 he was suffering from at the time.

Oil on canvas - Musée d'Orsay, Paris

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

Boulevard des Capucines (1873)
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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, USA

More Claude Monet Artwork and Analysis:

Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son (1875) The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of June 30th, 1878 (1878) Rouen Cathedral: The Facade at Sunset (1894) Water Lilies (1915-1926)

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Claude Monet
Interactive chart with Claude Monet's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart
Show influences

Artists

Eugéne BoudinEugéne Boudin
Gustave CourbetGustave Courbet
Jean-François MilletJean-François Millet
Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
J.M.W. TurnerJ.M.W. Turner

Personal Contacts

Pierre-Auguste RenoirPierre-Auguste Renoir
Frédéric BazilleFrédéric Bazille
Charles BaudelaireCharles Baudelaire
Alfred SisleyAlfred Sisley
Émile ZolaÉmile Zola

Movements

NeoclassicismNeoclassicism
JaponismJaponism
RealismRealism
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Years Worked: 1852 - 1926
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Edgar DegasEdgar Degas
Georges SeuratGeorges Seurat
Camille PissarroCamille Pissarro

Personal Contacts

Paul Durand-RuelPaul Durand-Ruel
Stéphane MallarméStéphane Mallarmé
James WhistlerJames Whistler
Georges ClemenceauGeorges Clemenceau

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
SymbolismSymbolism
PointillismPointillism
FauvismFauvism

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 22 Nov 2011. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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