Interpretive Resource

Artist Biography: Claude Monet

A concise biography about Monet's life and work.

National Gallery of Art. Micro Gallery—National Gallery of Art. Online Content. Washington, D.C., 2004.

Claude Monet
French, 1840-1926
Claude Monet was the foremost of all French impressionist landscape painters. His mature style is marked by broken brushwork and pure, bright colors, which complemented his careful observation of the effects of sunlight.

In the mid-1850s Monet worked as a caricaturist. Eugène Boudin saw the teenage artist's works in a shop window and encouraged him to study art seriously. Monet went on many excursions with Boudin, who encouraged him to observe and record the ephemeral effects of light.

Monet often painted in the company of other artists. For example, he and Auguste Renoir worked together in 1869 at La Grenouillère, which led to the development of the impressionist style. After a brief stay in London during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Monet moved to the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil in 1872. With the financial assistance of Edouard Manet, the artist began his most prolific phase, exhibiting in the first impressionist show in 1874 and most of the seven that followed.

In 1883 Monet moved to Giverny, where he worked on several series of paintings showing a single subject under different lighting conditions. These included poplars, haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, and his own water gardens, which he enlarged by diverting a branch of the Epte River.

Monet eventually broke with impressionism in two critical respects: his paintings were usually extensively reworked in the studio, and the subject itself was secondary to effects of light and weather. During the last years of his life, Monet concentrated almost exclusively on depictions of his water gardens.



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