Claude Monet Biography Biography
French painter, initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style. Claude Monet is regarded as the archetypal Impressionist in that his devotion to the ideals of the movement was unwavering throughout his long career, and it is fitting that one of his pictures--Impression: Sunrise (Musee Marmottan, Paris; 1872)--gave the group his name.
His youth was spent in Le Havre, where Monet first excelled as a caricaturist but was then converted to landscape painting by his early mentor Eugene Boudin, from whom he derived his firm predilection for oil painting out of doors. In 1859 Claude Monet studied in Paris at the Atelier Suisse and formed a friendship with Pissarro. After two years' military service in Algiers, he returned to Le Havre and met Jongkind. He then, in 1862, entered the studio of Gleyre in Paris and there met Renoir and Sisley, with whom he was to form the nucleus of the Impressionist group.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) Monet took refuge in England with Pissarro: he studied the work of Constable and Turner, and painted the Thames and London parks. From 1871 to 1878 Monet lived at Argenteuil, a village on the Seine near Paris, and here were painted some of the most joyous and famous works of the Impressionist movement, not only by Monet, but by his visitors Manet, Renoir and Sisley.
In 1878 Claude Monet moved to Vetheuil and in 1883 he settled at Giverny, also on the Seine, but about 40 miles from Paris. After having experienced extreme poverty, Monet began to prosper. By 1890 he was successful enough to buy the house at Giverny he had previously rented and in 1892 he married his mistress, with whom he had begun an affair in 1876, three years before the death of his first wife.
From 1890 Claude Monet concentrated on series of oil paintings in which he painted the same subject at different times of the day in different lights---Haystacks or Grainstacks (1890-91) and Rouen Cathedral (1891-95) are the best known. Increasingly his attention was focused on the celebrated water-garden he created at Giverny, which served as the theme for the series of oil paintings on Water Lilies that began in 1899 and grew to dominate his work completely (in 1914 he had a special studio built in the grounds of his house so he could work on the huge canvases).
In his final years he was troubled by failing eyesight, but Claude Monet painted until the end. He was enormously prolific and many major art galleries have examples of his work.
Best known paintings: Water lilies, The Luncheon
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