Who Was Claude Monet?

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Who Was Claude Monet?

Claude Monet was a famous French painter whose work gave a name to the art movement Impressionism. After an art exhibition in 1874, a critic insultingly dubbed Monet's painting style "Impression," since it was more concerned with form and light than realism, and the term stuck. As Monet documented his world with painting, we have 3 paintings here and the story behind them.

In 1859, Monet decided to move to Paris to pursue art, and made friends with now famous artists such as Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille. He won acceptance to the Salon of 1865, an annual juried art show in Paris. Though his works received some critical praise, he still struggled financially. One year after the birth of his first son, Jean, in 1867, Monet was in dire financial straits and was so despondent that he attempted suicide by trying to drown himself in the Seine River. Fortunately, Monet soon caught a break with the patronage of Louis-Joachim Guadibert. Now in secure housing, he painted the famous snow scene ‘The Magpie,’ a painting about the hope that comes after the passing of winter. He was already experimenting with an unconventional use of color here. The Salon rejected this painting.


the magpie claude monet wall art



Monet eventually settled in Argenteuil, an industrial town west of Paris, and began to develop his own technique. During his time in Argenteuil, Monet visited with many of his artist friends, together they formed an alternative society to the Salon and exhibited their works together. The society's April 1874 exhibition proved to be revolutionary. 

"Impression, Sunrise" depicted Le Havre's harbor in a morning fog. Critics named the distinct group of artists "Impressionists," saying their work seemed more like sketches than finished paintings. While it was meant to be derogatory, the term seemed fitting and they embraced it. Monet sought to capture the essence of nature and the moment using strong colors and bold, short brushstrokes. ‘Impression, Sunrise ' also contained industrial elements, bringing the subject of painting into modernity.


impression sunrise wall art monet


Monet gained financial and critical success during the late 1880s and 1890s, and started the serial paintings for which he would become well-known --  the Waterlilies he planted himself in his sprawling garden. In his Giverny home, he loved to paint outdoors in the garden and the water lilies found in the pond had a particular appeal for him. He painted several series of them throughout the rest of his life; easily hundreds of canvases of the pond, waterlilies, Japanese Bridge, and other features of his garden. 

monet waterlilies wall art


Since he had a long and fairly successful career as an artist, Monet’s story does not often mention how he struggled throughout his life with poverty and depression. In his later years, he wrote to one friend that "Age and chagrin have worn me out. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that's left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear." Despite his despair, he continued painting until his final days.

Monet died on December 5, 1926, at his home in Giverny. Monet once wrote, "My only merit lies in having painted directly in front of nature, seeking to render my impressions of the most fleeting effects." Most art historians believe that Monet accomplished much more than this: He changed the world of art by daring to shake off the conventions of the past.