Claude Monet was a French painter born in November 1840 and considered the founding father of the Impressionist Movement. Monet had a long and distinguished career of eighty years as an artist.
He promoted the Impressionist ideal of painting en Plein air, in the open air, to adequately capture nature in landscape paintings. Claude Monet Impression, Sunrise, painted in 1872, is the painting that gave its name to the Impressionist Movement.
Paintings by Claude Monet are held in museums worldwide, while others remain in private ownership. As a result, the artist's oil paintings have realized some of the highest prices ever paid for works of art, and this is particularly true of Monet’s Nympheas or Water Lily paintings.
When Claude Monet artworks come to auction, the art world comes alive with dealers and collectors prepared to pay enormous sums of money.
Monet was born in Paris, but his parents moved to Le Havre in Normandy at age five. His father was a ship-chandling and grocery business businessman who wanted Monet to join the family business. Monet, however, wanted to become an artist. So in 1851, with his mother’s support, he enrolled at the Le Havre Secondary School of Art.
During his time at the art school, Monet met Eugene Boudin. Boudin encouraged Monet to paint outside, introducing him to the en Plein air painting technique. The artist later said that Boudin had been his Master and to whom he owed his later success.
Monet’s mother died in 1857, and in 1858 he moved to Paris to continue his studies at the Academie Suisse. It was here that he met fellow artist Camille Pissarro, who became a lifelong friend.
Monet was called to military service in 1861 and sent to Algeria to fight. He found the intense light and vivid colors of North Africa very influential, using the concept in his later oil paintings.
In 1863 Monet returned to Paris to continue his studies. It was here that he met with his lifelong friends, artists Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Frederic Bazille. Monet, Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. These impressionist artists frequently visited Honfleur together to capture the landscapes on canvas.
Many of his important paintings come from this early period. For example, Le Dejeuner sur L’herbe, 1865, shows artists Gustav Courbet and Frederic Bazille at a picnic in the woods, together with Monet’s first wife, Camille Doncieux.
During the eight decades of his career, Claude Monet is famous for many paintings.
However, because of Impression, Sunrise gave its name to the Impressionist Art Movement; this painting is considered his most important work.
The painting was ridiculed at its first exhibition in 1872 and criticized for being unfinished and vague. However, it has become recognized as a masterpiece among French impressionist paintings at the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris.
Monet’s impressionist oil painting The Artists Garden at Giverny, 1900 oil painting is also considered a masterpiece of Impressionist art. This landscape oil painting highlights the garden he created at Giverny. Monet's painting displays rows of pink and purple irises, with his house visible in the background.
Monet was sixty when he painted this oil on canvas. The painting demonstrates how Monet is a master of light and shade, with its overhanging trees providing light and shade to the flowers.
The original Monet painting hangs in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
Monet Water Lilies, or Nympheas paintings, as they are also known, number approximately 250 in total. They are all painted from the period 1896 to 1920.
Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, painted in 1899 at Giverny, is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
The painting is just one of the many Monet paintings of the landscaped gardens in his Giverny home.
Monet invested in more land and created a large lily pond with a Japanese bridge as he became famous and sold more paintings. Finally, in the summer of 1899, Monet painted a series of eighteen views of his lily pond.
Water Lilies, 1916, belongs to the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Japan. It is one of our most popular art reproductions of Monet's water lily paintings.
Monet adapted his studio with a large glass wall so that he could paint from the studio, looking out to his garden and lily pond; with his easel on wheels, he could easily move around the Studio.
Other famous Monet paintings include Irises and Water Lilies, painted by Monet in 1917, again in his garden in Giverny. This painting is in a private collection.
Also held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Poppy Fields near Argenteuil, painted in 1875. It is one of four similar paintings Monet painted in fields on the plain of Gennevilliers, close to his house at Argenteuil. The painting shows two poplar trees on the edge of the poppy field. The artist’s son Jean appears in the foreground with the River Seine flowing on the very left of the painting.
Monet married Camille in 1870. With the onset of the Franco-Prussian war, he went to live in London and Amsterdam. He met in London with his friend Pissarro and the American painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Monet also became friends with the influential art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, a relationship that became a milestone event in his career.
In London, Monet admired the paintings he saw by the English landscape artists John Constable and JWM Turner. Monet was particularly impressed with Turner’s use of light and his paintings of fog on the river Thames. There is no doubt that this feature of Turner’s greatly influenced Monet’s future work and Impressionist, Sunrise two years later.
Monet also painted many oil paintings featuring the river Thames and paintings of Hyde Park and Green Park in central London.
In 1871 he returned to France to live in Argenteuil, North West of Paris, close to the river Seine banks. He purchased a boat which he adapted to a floating studio, and signed a long lease on the house in Argenteuil. Then, for the first time, he began planning and designing a garden that would become the subject of many of his paintings.
In 1879 Camille Monet died of uterine cancer in 1789. Monet’s financial position was unstable. He began to move away from the Impressionist movement he had founded in favor of more saleable paintings.
Monet became close to Alice Hoschede, the widow of the retail magnate and art collector Ernst Hoschede. They married in 1892, making their home in Giverny.
Monet’s financial problems eased after trips to the Netherlands and Bordighera on the Italian and French border. His paintings pleased American art collectors, and he enjoyed financial security not previously experienced.
With Durand-Ruel selling more of his paintings and greater financial resources, Monet began work on his garden in Giverny. He built a second studio and a greenhouse and employed numerous gardeners to maintain and expand the gardens. In addition, he bought more land, imported plants, and waterlilies in colors not available domestically in France, and expanded his water garden, known as the Claude Monet water lily pond.
Here at Giverny, Monet began his series of paintings of the same subject, haystacks, poplar trees, and the cathedral at Rouen, for which he is so famous. These paintings were universally popular and added to Monet’s financial success and stability.
At Giverny, he began his most famous series of paintings; Claude Monet’s Water Lilies paintings occupied the remaining twenty years of his life. He exhibited the first Japanese Bridge paintings in 1900. He then traveled to London to paint forty-one paintings of Waterloo Bridge, thirty-four of Charing Cross Bridge, and nineteen of the Houses of Parliament paintings.
By 1909, Monet had reached a point of near abstraction in his water lily paintings and exhibited forty-two paintings at the Durand-Ruel gallery. This exhibition was a huge success.
Monet’s second wife died in 1911, and his oldest son Jean died in 1914. Around this time, Monet’s cataracts began severely affecting his work and limiting his previously significant output of paintings. He avoided cataract surgery, and in 1922, he received a treatment of drugs to dilate his pupils, providing a short-term benefit. However, in 1923 cataract surgery led to an improvement in his eyesight. With better vision, Monet considered many of his earlier paintings inferior and destroyed many. He began to repaint and retouch the remaining works he had painted with poor eyesight resulting in far brighter colors than had been previously seen.
In the 1920s, the French government built a pair of oval rooms so Monet could paint and exhibit his series of eight water lily murals. Known as The Orangerie, it adjoins the Louvre Museum in Paris,
Claude Monet’s water lily pond paintings, known as the Nympheas paintings, were enormous in scale. Although on separate canvasses, they measure some two meters high by ninety-one meters in length.
Monet was involved in designing the two oval-shaped rooms. At his insistence, the construction includes glass panels. These panels gave Monet a perspective on gardens at differing times of the day. Even in bright sunlight or the overcast and cloudy weather, Monet could view his gardens and continue painting.
The artist Andrew Masson called The Orangerie rooms “the Sistine Chapel of Impressionism.”
Monet died in December 1926 at the age of 86. His grave is in the Giverny church cemetery, close to his home. Michel Monet, Claude's son, gifted his house and garden, including the water lily pond, to the French Academy of Fine Arts.
Despite the popular reception of the water lily paintings in the Orangerie in 1927, Claude Monet’s art garnered little attention for many years after his death.
However, in the 1940s and 1950s, the Abstract Expressionists, notably Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, began to note Monet’s large canvasses and semi-abstract compositions.
Pop artists such as Andy Warhol also observed Monet’s repeated series of paintings, such as the Haystack and London Bridge paintings. Warhol, for example, repeated the theme with a series of Marilyn’s, Chairman Mao, and Che Guevara.
Almost 100 years after his death, Monet paintings still set new selling price records. In 2019, auction house Sotheby’s sold Meules 1890, one of the Monet Haystacks paintings, for $110,747,000, a record price for the artist and making it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold.
Claude Monet oil painting reproductions are constant favorites with our customers. In addition, please enjoy browsing some 550+ reproductions of famous paintings by the Father of Impressionism, all available in our online catalog.
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