Claude Monet was born in 1840 in Paris, France. When he was still a teenager, he took pastel and oil painting lessons from Eugene Boudin. Boudin liked to paint outdoors and encouraged Monet to do the same. For 60 years, Monet was interested in the effects of light on outdoor scenes. When he was 19, he moved to Paris to pursue his love for painting and made the acquaintance of Camille Pissarro and Edouard Manet.
In 1874, Monet and a group of painters banded together to form a society of artists. Pissarro and Renoir were among this group. The Official Salon of Paris rejected the works of young painters in their thirties and forties. The group called themselves the Anonymous Cooperative Society of Artists. Their exhibition included Monet’s painting called Impression: Sunrise. This painting gave the group its name – the Impressionists. It was used derisively by the critics but the name is now recognized as a classic movement in painting.
Monet achieved his first success when two of his paintings were accepted by the Salon in 1865. They were The Cape de la Heve at Low Tide and Mouth of the Seine at Honfleur. The next year, for the Salon exhibition, he presented a portrait of his future wife Camille which he created in four days – The Woman in the Green Dress.
In 1870, Monet married Camille, with whom he had already had a son Jean. Camille posed for many of Monet’s paintings – Women in the Garden, Woman with a Parasol, The Japanese Woman, and many others. Sadly, Camille died in 1879, leaving Claude with his two small sons. The two boys were raised with the five children of Alice and Ernest Hoschede. After Ernest died, Monet married Alice and they moved to Giverny with their children. There he began his paintings of the French countryside, many of which depict his own property at Giverny.
A one-man exhibition in 1879 finally gained financial independence for Monet and he was able to spend his time devoted to his art rather than marketing his works.
In Giverny, Monet had in mind the depiction of a garden with a pond which he created close to the house. He painted a series of 13 paintings showing the pond with white water lilies. This was the beginning of the final group of 48 paintings of the Nympheas, which means Water Lilies, with which we are all familiar and which are forever associated with Monet.
Monet lived in Giverny for over 40 years until his death in 1926. His contribution to the world of art is a phenomenon, particularly his impressionistic paintings which were once disdained and are now revered.
This is the first in a series of articles on the Painting Masters.