Paintings by Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a French painter. Claude Monet was born in Paris but educated at Le Havre where, in 1858, he met Boudin who encouraged him to paint nature on the spot. At the Atelier Suisse in Paris in 1859 he met Pissarro and Cézanne and after military service in Algiers (1862) returned to Paris to study under Gleyre. A fellow-student of Renoir, Sisley and Bazille (1862-4), he painted with them at Chailly, near Fontainebleau. Claude Monet was the least satisfied with Gleyre's teaching and learnt more from Jongkind and Boudin; and working with them at Honfleur (1864), he began to paint the landscape in terms of its atmospheric appearance. His paintings of the Seine estuary - very well received at the 1865 Salon - already revealed the extraordinarily acute judgment of tonal values that prompted Cézanne to call him 'only an eye, but my God what an eye'. Around 1865/6 Claude Monet tried to rework the theme of Manet's Le Déjeuner sur I'Herbe without its studio artificiality. The projected large painting was probably never completed; but the study, dated 1866, in Moscow, is a remarkably complete attempt to represent figures in a glade with the sunlight filtering on to them through the leaves. This was to become a recurrent Impressionist theme. In the late 1860s Claude Monet and Renoir worked in a partnership of mutual advantage and produced the 1st pure Impressionist paintings. In La Grenouillüre (1869) Claude Monet began to break up local colour into strokes of pure colour and in The Magpie (c. 1870) - an evenly toned snowscape - the pale blue of the shadow vibrantly complements the touches of yellow flecked across the snow's surface. Impression Sunrise (1872) which earned the group their derisive name suggests a debt to Constable's empirical directness and to Turner's atmospheric generalizations (Claude Monet was in London in 1871). Claude Monet contributed to 5 of the 8 Impressionist exhibitions and suffered as much as Pissarro and Sisley from hostility and lack of patronage. Working mainly at Argenteuil with Manet, Morisot, Renoir and Sisley during the 1870s, Monet remained dedicated to the study of light and its changing effect on nature. In 1876 he began the first of his series of paintings on a single subject - the Gare St Lazare (1876-8) was followed by the Haystacks (1890-2), Poplars (1890-2), and Rouen Cathedral (1892-4). Their object was to observe the transformation of the motif under changing light and atmosphere, but they almost incidentally led to the surface richness of colour and paint of his late style which has earned comparison with Abstract ExpressionisMonet.
The 1880s were prolific years, but years of continued poverty and depression until in 1889 Claude Monet had his 1st big public success at an exhibition shared with Rodin. In 1883 he settled at Giverny where - apart from visits to London (1891, 1899, 1903) and Venice (1908-9) - he spent the rest of his life. There he created an astonishing garden elaborately arranged with plants and flowers of different colours. The late water-lily paintings (Nymphéas) painted in the water gardens ('outdoor studios') which he built there, were still responses to his eye, but - increasingly subjective - they embody a larger, cosmic sense of nature. He presented the vast canvases in the Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, to the state in 1921 as his contribution to the restoring of the spirit of peace. The canvases surround and submerge the spectator. Claude Monet, who said he 'feared the dark more than death', died blind. Perhaps the most astonishing of the late paintings were given by Monet's son Michel as a bequest to the Musee Marmottan in 1966, including 12 of the Nymphéas and 7 Ponts japonais. These works anticipate in many ways Abstract Expressionism.