Claude Monet

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Claude Oscar Monet was a famous French impressionist painter of the 19th century and the founder of the French impressionist movement. He was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris, France to Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet. His father owned a grocery store and his mother was a singer. The family moved to Normandy in 1945. In 1851, Monet enrolled at the Le Havre secondary school of the arts where he quickly began to make a name for himself. He studied drawing under Jacques-François Ochard. At first he sold charcoal caricatures for ten or twenty francs. A few years later he met Eugène Boudin who taught him how to work with oil paints and paint outdoor landscapes and sceneries.

After the death of his mother in 1857, Claude Monet left school at the age of 16 and went to live with an aunt Marie-Jeanne Lecadre. He then travelled to Paris to visit the Louvre, where he saw the works of the great masters. Most painters at the time would copy the works of the greats, but Monet instead chose to focus on landscapes. During this time he befriended a number of upcoming artists of the day, one of them being Édouard Manet. In 1861, Monet joined the army. His intended duration there was seven years, but within the first two years, he got typhoid and with the help of his aunt, he was discharged. He was enrolled at a university to take an art course as part of his terms of release. However, he was dissatisfied with the teaching methodology there and left within a year to study privately with Charles Gleyre in Paris. Here he met many painters such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley.

It was during this time that he began to develop the technique that came to be known as impressionism. This was a method of painting in the open air with rapid brushstrokes. One of his first famous paintings was “Camille” better known as “The Woman in the Green Dress” for which the model was Camille Doncieux, his future wife. This was painted in 1866. Camille also featured in several of his other paintings, including “The Woman in the Garden” and “On the Bank of the Seine”. In 1868, Monet attempted suicide due to financial pressures, by jumping into the river Seine. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, Monet sought refuge in England where he studied the works of John Constable and J. M. W. Turner. He left London the next year, after his works were refused admission into the Royal Academy exhibition, and returned to France a few months later. In 1872, his painting “Impression, Sunrise” was displayed at an exhibition. This was the painting that led to the coinage of the term impressionism. This painting now hangs at the Musée Marmottan-Monet in Paris.

Monet’s wife became ill in 1871, and more so after the birth of their second child in 1878. She died the following year at the age of 32. Monet painted a portrait of his wife on her death bed. He was abject after her death for a few months, and then began working on some of his most famous paintings. He moved in with a wealthy store owner named Ernest Hoschedé and his wife, whom he married after Hoschedé died in 1891. He moved to Normandy where he painted regularly in his garden. He started earning a better income and eventually bought his own house. Towards the end of his life he developed cataracts in both eyes, and underwent two surgeries. Due to this, his paintings during this time have a reddish tint to them. Claude Monet died in 1926 at the age of 86. He is still recognized as one of the greatest impressionist painters and some of his paintings have been sold for more than $40 million.

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