Claude Monet (1840-1926) was a French painter who is widely regarded as one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. He was born in Paris, France, but grew up in the coastal town of Le Havre, where his father worked as a grocer.
Monet showed an early talent for drawing and painting, and his parents supported his artistic pursuits. He received his first formal art training at the age of 11, and by the age of 16, he was already exhibiting his paintings at local art shows.
In 1861, Monet was drafted into the French Army, but he was able to convince his commanding officer to let him pursue his art instead. He moved to Paris and enrolled in the Académie Suisse, where he met several other young artists who would later become his friends and colleagues.
Monet married his first wife, Camille Doncieux, in 1870. They had two sons, but Camille died in 1879. Monet later remarried, and he and his second wife, Alice Hoschedé, had six children together.
Monet spent much of his career traveling and painting in various locations throughout France, including Paris, Rouen, Argenteuil, Giverny, and the Normandy coast. He was inspired by the changing light and colors of the natural world, and he often painted outdoors (en plein air) to capture the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere.
Monet was influenced by a number of artists, including Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet, and Édouard Manet. He was also inspired by Japanese art, which he collected and incorporated into his own work.
Monet's technique involved layering multiple brushstrokes of vibrant, pure colors to create an overall impression of the scene. His loose, gestural brushwork and emphasis on light and atmosphere were key characteristics of the Impressionist style.
Monet's footprint on the art world is significant. Along with other Impressionist artists, he challenged traditional notions of painting and paved the way for modern art movements of the 20th century.
Here are five of Monet's most important paintings:
"Impression, Sunrise" (1872) - This painting is often credited with giving the Impressionist movement its name. It depicts the port of Le Havre at dawn, with the sun rising over a misty harbor.
"Water Lilies" (1916) - This series of paintings, which Monet worked on for more than 20 years, depicts the water lilies in his garden pond at Giverny. The paintings are known for their dreamy, almost abstract quality.
"Rouen Cathedral" series (1892-1894) - Monet painted more than 30 variations of Rouen Cathedral, each capturing the cathedral's façade in different lighting conditions and times of day.
"Haystacks" series (1890-1891) - Monet painted more than 25 variations of haystacks in the countryside near his home in Giverny. The paintings showcase his ability to capture the changing effects of light and weather.
"The Gare Saint-Lazare" (1877) - This painting depicts the bustling train station of Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris, with steam and smoke billowing from the trains. The painting is notable for its use of industrial subject matter and its emphasis on the play of light and shadow.