Oscar-Claude Monet was born in Paris, France on November 14, 1840. He was the second child born to Claude Adolphe and Louise-Justine Monet. When Claude was about five, the family moved from Paris to the small town of La Havre. His father's brother-in-law, Jacques Lacadre, owned successful wholesale business in La Havre. His wife, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre, convinced him to offer Claude's father a job.
Claude Monet spent his childhood in La Havre. He first became known for his caricatures and exhibited this work locally. During this time, he befriended fellow artist Eugene Boudin who became his mentor. Boudin influenced Monet to begin plein air or outdoor painting. He also encouraged Claude to try oil paint and pastels, instead of charcoal as a medium for his artwork.
Monet prints shown are Jeanne Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden (above right) and Terrace at Sainte-Adresse (above left).
"It is only now that I have read the kind article you wrote on my exhibition, published in the Journal de Paris. Allow me to express my rather belated thanks. I am doubly grateful since very few of the critics have the courage to defend me, or atleast to write what they think. But as you rightly say so, people must first of all learn to look at nature, and only then may they see and understand what we are trying to do."
- Claude Monet
Claude Monet completed his first painting in 1858 entitled View from Rouelles. In 1859 he moved to Paris to study painting. He attended the Academie Suisse, an informal place where artists met and models and material were available for use. This is where Monet met Camille Pissarro and began frequenting Brasserie des Martyrs, a favorite meeting place of artists and writers.
In 1862, Monet enrolled for formal art instruction under Charles Gleyre. Frederic Bazille, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir were also students of Gleyre. The group became friends and often painted together. The Bodmer Oak, Forest of Fontainebleau was painted with his new friends during this period. Monet and Bazille were also admirers of Delacroix and often visited the Louvre to admire his paintings.
Monet prints shown are View from Rouelles (above right), The Bodmer Oak, Forest of Fontainebleau (above left), and Camille Monet and Child in the Garden (below right).
In 1867, Claude's first son Jean Monet was born to his companion Camille. Claude and Camille were married on June 26, 1870. During the early years, money was scarce and the couple was forced to move several times. Monet had limited success in the acceptance of his paintings. The annual Salon jury set the standard for French artists at the time, and many of Monet's paintings were rejected.
"Perhaps it's true that I'm very hard on myself, but that's better than exhibiting mediocre work."
- Claude Monet
Impression, Sunrise was painted in 1872 and the group of emerging artists were named Impressionists after an article in a newspaper laughingly referenced the style of painting. 1874 was the year of the First Impressionists' Exhibition. The exhibition was held at a studio on the Boulevard des Capucines and also featured the work of other artists such as Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, and Paul Cezanne.
Monet prints shown are Boulevard des Capucines (above right) and Impression, Sunrise (above left).
"Everyone discusses [my artwork] and pretends to understand, when it is simply necessary to love."
- Claude Monet
Some of Claude Monet's best known work was done in Argenteuil, including one of his famous garden scenes Monet's Garden at Argenteuil which he painted in 1873. He worked almost exclusively in Argenteuil from 1875 to 1878. The Seine at Argenteuil was one of his famous paintings during this period. The painting was recently featured in the hit movie Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. The Monet family returned to Paris in 1878 where their second son Michel, was born on March 17th. Camille Monet died the following year in September after a long illness.
Two of the most popular Monet prints are The Seine at Argenteuil (above right) and Monet's Garden at Argenteuil (above left). Also shown are Monet prints of Bordighera (below right) and San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk - Venice Twilight (below left).
Claude Monet made several trips to the Mediterranean between 1883 and 1908. During these visits he painted many landscapes and seascapes such as Bordighera. Famous landmarks were also a favorite subject for Monet in the Mediterranean. His paintings in Venice included the Grand Canal, Doges' Palace, and San Giorgio Maggiore. The Monet painting that was stolen in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair was San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk.
"You must know I'm entirely absorbed in my work. These landscapes of water and reflections have
become an obsession. It's quite beyond my powers at my age, and yet I want to succeed at expressing what I feel."
- Claude Monet
Monet moved to Giverny, France in 1883. Shortly after his arrival in Giverny, Claude began developing the famous garden that was the inspiration for many of his most famous paintings. The Artist's Garden in Giverny is one of the most popular paintings. His garden in Giverny grew to include a water garden and a japanese style bridge. Water lilies and the Japanese bridge were the subject of many Monet paintings.
Monet prints shown are Water Lilies (above right) and The Artist's Garden at Giverny (above left).
The garden in Giverny also inspired the Water Lily murals which are on display at the Orangerie des Tuileries. These huge panels of water lilies were Monet's gift to the state. Monet lived in Giverny until his death on December 5, 1926. The Water Lily murals were dedicated in the Orangerie on May 17, 1927.