Oscar-Claude Monet was born November 14, 1840 in Paris, France, the second son of Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet. In 1845, the Monets moved to the port town of Saint-Adresse, near Le Havre. Young Claude obtained his “classical” education at La Havre’s secondary school.
Around 1856 or 1857, Monet began taking pastel and oil painting lessons from Eugene Boudin. Boudin, who worked primarily outdoors, encouraged Monet to do the same. Monet later said, “Suddenly the veil was torn away... My destiny as a painter opened out to me.” For the next 60+ years he explored the effects of light on outdoor scenes. He was the first artist to let his initial impressions stand as completed works, rather than as “notes” done in preparation for work in the studio. In 1859, Monet moved to Paris to pursue his art, where he met and befriended Camille Pissarro and Edouard Manet.
In 1870, Monet married his favorite model, Camille Doncieux. In 1871, the Monets settled in the village of Argenteuil on the Seine near Paris. He set up a boat with an easel and painted his way up and down the Seine, capturing his impressions of the interplay of light, water and atmosphere.
In 1874, Monet and a group of painters including Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir banded together to form a society of artists. They gave a public exhibition of their work at the studio of a Paris photographer. Monet exhibited a painting called “Impression: Sunrise.” His painting gave the group its name, coined in derision by critic Louis Leroy referring to the entire exhibition as “Impressionistic.” Despite the financial failure of this first exhibit, the Impressionist continued to exhibit together until 1886.
In 1883, Monet and his family settled in Giverny, France. He continued to explore his fascination with light in his “series” paintings where he depicted the same subjects, including the water lilies, pond, and Japanese bridge in his own gardens, in varying light and weather conditions. He also painted extensively along the Normandy coast.
Monet died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926 at the age of 86, and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. He continued to paint until the very end.
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Claude Monet: Life and Art
by Paul Hayes Tucker
This biography is a complete overview of the life, art, and times of Claude Monet. Tucker presents a complicated man, competitive and ambitious, sensitive and inventive. Great illustrations.
Monet in Normandy
by Richard Brettell
This catalogue examines some of Monet's most important paintings, including the famed Giverny canvases, the iconic haystacks, and the Rouen cathedral series.
Monet's Years at Giverny
by Daniel Wildenstein, James N. Wood (Introduction), Charles S. Moffett (Introduction)
This book covers the 40 years Monet spent at his country home in Giverny. 81 paintings from these years are accompanied by facinating narrative on Monet's life, following his evolution from Impressionist to innovative abstractionist.
The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
This epic documentary recaptures the revolutionary impact the impressionists made while providing a historical and artistic context for this extraordinary group of painters, including Monet.