Monet is one of the greatest French painters, perhaps the best known of all the French painters. He helped found the impressionist movement. One of his paintings, "Impression: Sunrise" led to the name of one of the most important artistic movements in history--impressionism. Claude grew up in the seaport of Le Havre. His talent for caricature was noted as a boy. Boudin mentored him and redirected his interest toward landscape and paining outdoors. Monet studied in Paris at the Atelier (Studio) Suisse where he formed a friendship with Pissarro (1859). Mobet did 2 years of compulsory military service in Algiers. After returning to Le Havre and met Jongkind who he wouls later say helped educate his eye. Next he worked in Gleyre's Paris studio (1862). There he met Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille--the core of the Impressionist group. At the time that Monet was developing as a artist, the new medium of photography was providing way of very accurately capturing detail. Monet in many ways was at the forefront of the artistic response. Monet would capture impression and color in a way that photography at the time could not. The result was some of the most beautiful works of art ever painted. Monet from the beginning was devoted to painting outdoors, especially in his gardem. And he was very careful about the lighting conditions as he worked on his paintings. Some of the best loved impressionist paintings were painted there and not all by Monet. His wife Camille and son Jean Monetat figured in some of them.
Monet's parents were Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubree Monet. His father was a Mancy merchant specialising in groceries. His mother was very musical. Her singing was part of the background of his childhood and influenced his artistic sensibilities. Monet's mother died and his widowed, childless aunt had taken him into her home (1857). His practical father objected to his desire to be an artist, wanting a more stable profession for his son. They even offered to buy him out of his military service obligation if he gave up his efforts to pursue art.
Claude was born in Paris (1840) and always considered himself Parisian. [Monet] He was the second son and called Oscar within the family. His older brother was Leon. His father took the family to La Harve, a seaport, for business reasons (1845). And it was there that Claude grew up. Monet re,embers both his indescipline as well as the appeal of the sun and sea. He writes, "... my childhood was spent at the Havre where my father had settled in 1845 in order to better pursue his own business interests and as it happened, this childhood of mine, was essentially one of freedom. I was born undisciplineable. No one was ever able to make me stick to the rules, not even in my youngest days. It was at home that I learned most of what I do know. I equated my college life with that of a prison and I could never resolve to spend my time there, even for four hours a day when the sun was shinning bright, the sea was so beautiful and it was so good to run along the cliff-tops in the fresh air or frolic in the sea." [Monet] His talent for caricature was noted as a boy.
Monet attended a private primary school in La Harve. Claude began at the Le Havre college communal (1851). The College offered a classical education, This meant a focus on Latin and Greek beginning in the first form. There was also a school of commerce and municipal drawing school available to Claude.
The school was located on Rue de la Maillereaye, very close to Claude's home. Many boys had to board, but Claude could reamain at home. The school held two classes daily, each 2 hours long, one in the morning, the other after lunch in the afternoon. Claude was clever, but did not enjoy his studies or apply himself. Much to his parents' displeasure was a frequdnt truant. He later wrote, "Up until the age of fourteen or fifteen, much to my father's great disappointment, I continued this very irregular but healthy way of life. Somehow, in between, I did acquire the rudiments of a basic education including some proficiency at spelling. My studies went no further and did not cause me too much trouble, as I was able to interweave them with a number of distractions. I ornamented the margins of my text books, I decorated the blue paper of my exercise books with ultra fantastic designs and represented in the most irreverant manner possible, the features of my masters - either drawingtheir faces in front view or in profile." Claude spent most of his time outdoors enjoying the beautiful secenes arounf La Harve, the port, beach, and Sainte-Adresse cliffs.
At the Le Havre school, drawing had been taught since 1829 by Francais-Charles Ochard. He was capable and very patient teacher, well able to hold his student's attention. Monet didn't mention this period under his teacher in his later recollections, because it had been completely different from famous and well-known Monet's stile. He would drown in pen or pencil, in single sketch-book, mostly sketches of people, boats, landscapes and, also, caricatures of his masters, but not during drawing classes. They were made usually on Sunday. Some of them had specified date. Monet became popular and demanded thanks to his caricatures handed out at school. He charged for portraits and made the most of his vogue in that way. Monet exhibited his caricatures at Gravier's, stationer, framer and ironmonger shop. Every Sunday new caricatures would go up, framed in gold beading. Unfortunately, less than hundred original works have survived. He reported later leaving school early at 13-14 years of age (1855-1856), but he may have stayed another year.
Monet as a boy received no sophisticated art training exceot for some drawing instruction tught by Francais-Charles Ochard. Monet had acquited by the age of 16 a local reputation as a caricaturist in Le Havre. Growing up in La Harve proved fortuitous. Artists came to La Harve to capture the port and the beaches. He must have encontered some of them in his wanderings while playing hookey from school. One of those artists was Eugene Boudin. Nonet's caracatures led to an introduction to Eugène Boudin (1824-98). Boudin mentored Claude and redirected his interest toward landscape and in particular paining outdoors to capture the light. Monet went to Paris at the age of 19 years. He studied at the Atelier (Studio) Suisse where he formed a friendship with Pissarro (1859). His studies in Paris were interupted by military service He did 2 years of compulsory military service in Algiers. After returning to Le Havre, Monet met Jongkind who he would later say helped educate his eye.
Monet is one of the greatest French painters, perhaps the best known of all the French painters. He helped found the impressionist movement. One of his paintings, "Impression: Sunrise" led to the name of one of the most important artistic movements in history--impressionism. Monet worked in Gleyre's Paris studio (1862). There he met Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille--the core of the Impressionist group. At the time that Monet was developing as a artist, the new medium of photography was providing way of very accurately capturing detail. Monet in many ways was at the forefront of the artistic response. Monet would capture impression and color in a way that photography at the time could not. The result was some of the most beautiful works of art ever painted. The term impressionism first appeared (1874). It first appeared in a catalog. A title was needed for Monet's work. As the dadline was mearing, Monet called his work simply, "Impression". Thev catalog editor, Renoir's brother Edouard, added "Sunrise" tto be aittle more descriptive, without consulting Monet. Critics seized on "Impression" and gave the movent a derisory name--Impressionism. Monet from the beginning was devoted to painting outdoors, especially in his gardem. And he was very careful about the lighting conditions as he worked on his paintings. Some of the best loved impressionist paintings were painted in Monet's garden not all by Monet.
Camille Doncieux is important in art history, if nothing more than she appeared in so many of Monet's great works. She was still a teenager when Monet net her (around 1865). She came from a humble family. She was working as a model and presumably Monet was attracted by this attractive young woman ith dark hair and expressive eyes. Monet mentions her eyes. Monet was 7 years older and still an unrecognized, struggling artist. She quickly became his mistress and model. It was common for men of Monet’s social class to have mistresses. It was uncommon to marry them. Their first son Jean was born (1867). Monet defying class conventions, married Camille just before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (June 28, 1870). She went with him to London and Zaandam. After the War they moved to Argenteuil (December 1871). They lived little removed from poverty. It was at Argenteuil that Monet painted many bimportant works. His wife Camille and son Jean Monetat figured in some of them. Camille became ill (1876). About this time Monet began seeing a mistress. Their second son, Michel, was born (1878). The pregnacy weakened her at a time her health was failing. Even as she got sick, Camille sat for him regularly. There were portraits, but often shecwas aistant female figure in a rural landscape. Many of these works are among Monet's greatest vpaintings and masterpieces of Western art. Monet moved to the village of Vétheuil (1878). Camille died of tuberculosis at the age of 32 (1879). We have not been able to find much information about the boys. We see Jean in several paintings, but there are very few paintings with Michel. Monet met a woman while Camille was still alive. When her husband died, they married. She had a little girl who liked painting and Monet liked her. She eventually married Monet's son Jean. Jean died at age 47 before his father (1914). Jean' wife then looked after her father-in-law when Monet's second wife died.
The Franco-Prussian War was a disaster. The German armies defeated the French armoes at the border. They captured Emperor Napoleon III and then invested Paris. Both Monet and Pissarro sought refuge in England during the Franco-Prussian War. While in England he sought out the works of Constable and Turner, two noted landscape artists who renounded for their use of light. He painted works depicting the Thames and London parks. He also met the important art dealer Durand-Ruel, who would become one of the great promoters of the Impressionists.
After the Franco-Prussian War, Monet noved to Argenteuil, a picturesque village on the Seine a few miles from Paris. It was at Argenteuil that Monet discovered the joy of gardening. And Monet deligted in painting his garden, in many instances placing Camille and Jean in the canvas. He did not just paint his garden, but also scenes in the village and in the fields all around the village. Here Monet and some of his fellow impressionists painted some of the most beautiful, some art historians would describe as joyous, paintings in art history. Manet, Renoir and Sisley joined him there to paint. They worked in Monet's garden and other locations around the village. He attempted to capture these scenes in carious weather and lighting conditions. This was one of Monet's most productive periofs, but somehow he avoided repetition. And he also painted the Seine, fron virtually every angle. He loved to capture the land simmering in the water. He painted from the shore and from a studio-boat. Fortuitously, while Momet was at Argenteuil, the village became a sailing mecca when a parisian sailing club established there. This created wonderful water scenes for Monet to capture. As a result, Argenteuil provided Monet a rich diversity of subjects when he managed to capture beautifully.
Monet is surely best known for color. The colorful flowers in his his gardens and the sails agaonst the blue sky and clouds masterfully handle color. He wrote, ""Are the colors I use as interesting as all that ? I don't think so, considering that you can achieve more brightness with any other palette. The main thing is to know how to use colors, the choice of which boils down to a matter of habit."
But of course there was much more to Monet than color. He developed masterful techniques for capturing the images he saw, such as extended foreground strokes to represent the placid ripples of the Seine.
Monet's friend Renoir also painted these scenes and like Monet was fascinated by light.
Several of the impressionists were good friends. They would have a little friendly competition paining the same scene to see how they variously hanfeled the image and lighting. The results are classic images in art history and technique. One example was three renderings of Monet's wife Camille and son Jeanat Argenteuil. Manet and Monet painted sinilar scenes. Renoir painted it differently and created one of the most beloved of all impressionist works. A HBC reader has provided us some details of this session.
The three great impressionists at Argenteuil sometimes painted the same garden, field, village, and water scenes, often from the same viewpoint. The results are of course fascinating to art specialists. They provide unique examples of how the mind and masterful artists process imagery. In some cases the aertists, especially Monet and Renoir, worked side by side in a kind of competition. This seems to have encouraged then and propelled them to experiment outside the existing envelope. The results are some of the most brilliant achievements in art history.
After Argenteuil, Mopnet moved to Vétheuil (1879). He settled at Giverny (1883). This was on the Seine, but further from Paris--about 40 miles. The impressionists were not immediately popular. Momet and some of the other impressionists had trfouble selling their work. Some lived in virtual poverty. Only slowkly did they begin to prosper. Monet began to experiebce considerable success by the 1880s. He purchased the house at Giverny that he had been renting (1890). He married his mistress (1892). (He had begun the affair in 1876.)
While at Giverny he launced upon an experiment damous in art history (1890). He focused his energy on painting the same scene at different times of the day under varied lighting conitions. This reflected his fascination with light from an early point. Some of the mist famous were Haystacks or Grainstacks (1890-91) and Rouen Cathedral (1891-95). He traveled extensuvely. Both London and Venice were popular destinations. He visited Norway as a guest of Queen Christiana. He also began to increasingly concentrate on the noted water-garden he created at Giverny. He began to famous his famous Water-lily seies (1899). The water garden gradually dominate his psinting. He had a studio built to his specifications whivh enabled him to work on unusually large cavases (1914).
Monet lived a long, highly productive life. As an older man, his eyes began to fail. Even so he continued painting. He had a cateract operation and some of his pictures have a red tint not seen in his previous pictures. He died in 1926. He was the most prolific of all the impressionists. Most major galleries have some of his paintings.
Monet, Claude. Presented by Thiébault-Sisson. "My history," Le Temps (November 26, 1900).
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Artists pages:
[Return to Main French Artists page]
[Return to Main Artists M-R page]
[Chronology] [Countries] [Individuals] [Styles]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]