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Claude Monet

A look in the life of Claude Monet.

Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, c. 1901 [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, c. 1901

Claude Monet is considered one of the founders of French Impressionism. He dedicated his life to it, even when abstract painting rose in popularity. He liked to focus on the way that lighting affected the subject.

Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris. He moved with his family to Le Havre, France five years later and grew up there. Monet lost his mother, Louise, when he was 17 years old in 1857. One year later, Monet met Eugene Boudin, a marine painter who owned a little shop in town. Boudin recognized the boy's talent and gave him his first painting lessons, encouraging him to paint outdoors. According to Artelino, Monet's family was not happy with his choice of a vocation. His father expected him to go into the family business -- running a grocery store. Monet had other, more artistic plans. Those plans were diverted for a bit when Monet was drafted in 1860. He served in Africa for two years, but when he returned, he studied at Gleyre's studio in Paris, where he met Auguste Renoir, Jean Frédéric Bazille, Alfred Sisley and others. The group became the nucleus of the Impressionism movement.

Claude Monet: Personal Life

Monet celebrated the birth of his first son Jean Monet with Camille Doncieux in 1867. One year later, financial troubles led Monet to try to kill himself by jumping into the Seine. In 1870, he married Doncieux and they had a second son, Michel Monet. His wife acted as a model for many of his pieces including "The Woman in the Garden" and "On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt." Doncieux became ill in 1876, the same year Michel was born. His birth made her health worsen. That same year Monet started an affair with Alice Hoschedé. Three years later, Camille Doncieux died from tuberculosis. Monet didn't marry Hoschede until1892, making her his second wife.

Claude Monet Discovers Impressionism

It wasn't long until Claude Monet turned his back on what was considered traditional painting techniques. He no longer wanted to paint inside a studio. Because Monet's painting style was that of reflecting light on a subject, he started to paint in the open air of the Fontainebleau forest with his group of friends.

Monet's so-called discovery of Impressionism was one that he stumbled upon. The term impressionism comes from his painting titled "Impression: Sunrise." The catalogue of an exhibition in 1874 was in need of a title. Monet suggested they use "Impression." Renoir's brother Edouard served as the editor for the catalogue. He added "Sunrise" to explain the title, Impression. That painting ended up giving the entire movement its name.

Public Acceptance of Monet's Work

Claude Monet lived in extreme poverty until the mid-1880's. He was in his 40s before the public started to accept his works of art. Impressionism was finally making the group of artists a solid income. In 1890, Monet started working on serial paintings. He would take the same object, such as the haystacks behind his house, and paint them throughout the day as the light changed. The sun set faster than Monet could create his works, so he would often line up several canvasses next to each other and work on them at once. He completed 25 different paintings of the haystacks. According to WebMuseum, Monet still traveled extensively, but he started to spend more time at the water garden he created at Giverny. That water garden became the setting for his most famous work, "Water Lilies."

Claude Monet: Later Years

Claude Monet's health deteriorated later in his life. He suffered from bad eyesight and rheumatism, which took a toll on his ability to express his craft. The greatest project he conquered was his painting entitled "Water Lilies." According to Artelino, Monet built a structure in his garden so he could paint "Water Lilies" to protect himself from the elements.

Despite his physical limitations, Monet continued to paint until his death in 1926. In 1923, he had surgery for a cataract and his sight improved slightly. Just eight months before his death, at the age of 83, Monet finished his last work, a series of 22 murals of water lilies, commissioned by the French government. Claude Monet died from lung cancer on December 5, 1926. He was buried with a simple ceremony in Giverny Church Cemetery in Giverny, France. Only 50 people attended, which is what he requested.

Monet's Most Popular Works

Monet has several early works including "Garden at Sainte-Adresse" (1867), "Magpie"
(1868-1869), "La Grenouillère" (1869) and "The Beach at Trouville" (1870). He also painted Impression, "Soleil Levant" ("Impression, Sunrise", 1873), a picture of the sun through the misty Le Havre harbor, "Regatta at Argenteuil" (1872) which shows sailboats on the Seine and "La Promenade" in 1875.

The late works Monet is well-known for include, "The Floating Ice" (1880), "Garden in Bordighera," "Rock Arch West of Etretat" ("The Manneport") (1883), "Impression of Morning" (1884), "Bulbfield and Windmill Near Leyden" (1886) and "The Japanese Bridge" (1918-1924).

Claude Monet Posthumous Sales

Quite a contrast to the days Claude Monet lived in poverty and wasn't taken seriously, his works now garner international attention and millions of dollars. "London, the Parliament, Effects of Sun in the Fog," which he painted in 1904, sold for more than $20 million in 2004. Thieves have stolen "Falaises près de Dieppe" ("Cliffs near Dieppe") twice; once in 1998 and again in 2007. The first time, the curator of the museum was convicted in court of stealing the artwork. He and two accomplices received five years in jail. Monet's "Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil" (1873) sold for a record $41.4 million during a Christie's auction in May 2008. The bidder made the offer over the telephone. On June 24, 2008, "Le Bassin aux Nymphéas," a painting from Monet's Water Lilies series, sold at a Christie's auction for a whopping $80 million. It was the highest price ever paid for a Claude Monet work at auction.

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