French Impressionism

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

    Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris.  His parents were Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet, and he was brought up in a very religious household.  His family was just an average middle-class family, and this was important because he was a humble person, which showed through his artwork.  As he grew older his father expressed his interest in Monet following his footsteps in the grocery store business.  Monet had absolutely no interest in this as he wanted to be an artist. 
    On Monet’s first trip to the famous Louvre museum he witnessed many of the most revered painters of the time simply copying other paintings.  Monet did not like this at all so he chose to go to a nearby window and paint what he saw.  This was the true beginning of the impressionist art form.  He quickly became friends with Édouard Manet, and soon he began taking art lessons under Charles Gleyre.  Through his lessons he was introduced to the other contemporary painters of the time Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley.  These four men were the ones who pioneered the impressionist movement.  They share the same fondness of painting what was around them, not simply copying the work of other great artists.  In 1872, Monet painted his most important work: Impression, Sunrise.  It was this piece of art that Louis Leroy later coined the term “Impressionism.”
    In May of 1883, Monet and his quite large family moved to their last home in Giverny.  Monet constructed a barn, and later, a greenhouse in which he worked and observed nature respectively.  Monet’s first “collection” of artwork were his series of paintings.  One of the most famous is a bale of hay that is painted from all different angles at all different times of the day.  After creating this new perspective on a single item, Monet began painting more series, in particular Rouen Cathedral, Poplars, the Houses of Parliament, Mornings on the Seine, and his infamous Water Lilies.  He truly enjoyed nature as evidenced in most of his more famous paintings depicting the water lilies in his home pond as well as the Seine River.  On December 5, 1926 Monet unfortunately died of lung cancer. 
    Monet was one of the most important impressionist painters, if not the most important, because he kick-started the movement with his fellow colleagues and it was after him that the artistic movement was named.
Impression, Sunrise (1872)
Water Lilies
A Field of Tulips in Holland (1886)