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Claude Monet

Oscar Claude Monet

Claude Monet

Oscar Claude Monet

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Claude Monet was in almost every sense the founder of French Impressionist painting, the term itself coming from one of his paintings, Impression, Sunrise. As a child, his father wanted him to go into the grocery business, but his heart was in the profession of artistry, and at age 11, he entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts. During his stay at the secondary school, he was known for the caricatures he would draw for the locals for ten to twenty francs each. Five years later, he met artist Eugene Bouldin, who taught him the techniques of “en plein air” painting and became his mentor. At the age of 16, Monet left school for Paris, where instead of studying the great artworks of the masters, he sat by the window and painted what he saw outside.

When he was twenty-one years old, he joined the First Regiment of African Light Calvary in Algeria, for a seven year tour. But his stay was cut short after two years when he was hit by a bout of typhoid fever, and his aunt arranged for his release, as long as he continued his art studies. Upon his return to Paris, he studied the “en plein air” methods, along with Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frederic Bazille, and Alfred Sisley, and developed the painting style that would soon be known as Impressionism. Upon the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Monet fled to England, also traveling to the Netherlands before his return to Paris, after which he exhibited many of his works in 1874, at the first Impressionist Exhibition.

Upon the death of his wife Camille to tuberculosis after the birth of their second child, Monet was resolved never to life in poverty again, and was determined to create some of the best artworks of the 19th century. By 1890, he was prosperous to buy a large house and garden, where he would continue to paint for the rest of his life.

As a painter of controlled nature, Monet’s garden was one of his biggest sources of inspiration. As such, he wrote precise instructions for his gardeners, with specific designs and color layouts, and amassed a large collection of botanical books. At one time, he employed seven gardeners at once. After his death of lung cancer, his only surviving child, Michel, was heir to the Monet family property, which has since been restored and opened to the public, including the vast gardens.

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Oscar-Claude Monet (/moʊˈneɪ/; French: [klod mɔnɛ]; 14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926) was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein air landscape painting. The term "Impressionism" is derived from the title of his painting Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), which was exhibited in 1874 in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his associates as an alternative to the Salon de Paris.

Monet's ambition of documenting the French countryside led him to adopt a method of painting the same scene many times in order to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where he purchased a house and property and began a vast landscaping project which included lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life.

Claude Monet was born on 14 November 1840 on the fifth floor of 45 rue Laffitte, in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. He was the second son of Claude Adolphe Monet and Louise Justine Aubrée Monet, both of them second-generation Parisians. On 20 May 1841, he was baptized in the local parish church, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, as Oscar-Claude, but his parents called him simply Oscar. (He signed his juvenilia "O. Monet".) Despite being baptized Catholic, Monet later became an atheist.

In 1845, his family moved to Le Havre in Normandy. His father wanted him to go into the family's ship-chandling and grocery business, but Monet wanted to become an artist. His mother was a singer, and supported Monet's desire for a career in art.

On 1 April 1851, Monet entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts. Locals knew him well for his charcoal caricatures, which he would sell for ten to twenty francs. Monet also undertook his first drawing lessons from Jacques-François Ochard, a former student of Jacques-Louis David. On the beaches of Normandy around 1856 he met fellow artist Eugène Boudin, who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints. Boudin taught Monet "en plein air" (outdoor) techniques for painting. Both received the influence of Johan Barthold Jongkind.

On 28 January 1857, his mother died. At the age of sixteen, he left school and went to live with his widowed, childless aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre.

When Monet traveled to Paris to visit the Louvre, he witnessed painters copying from the old masters. Having brought his paints and other tools with him, he would instead go and sit by a window and paint what he saw. Monet was in Paris for several years and met other young painters, including Édouard Manet and others who would become friends and fellow Impressionists.

After drawing a low ballot number in March 1861, Monet was drafted into the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry (Chasseurs d'Afrique) in Algeria for a seven-year period of military service. His prosperous father could have purchased Monet's exemption from conscription but declined to do so when his son refused to give up painting. While in Algeria Monet did only a few sketches of casbah scenes, a single landscape, and several portraits of officers, all of which have been lost. In a Le Temps interview of 1900 however he commented that the light and vivid colours of North Africa "contained the germ of my future researches". After about a year of garrison duty in Algiers, Monet contracted typhoid fever and briefly went absent without leave. Following convalescence, Monet's aunt intervened to get him out of the army if he agreed to complete a course at an art school. It is possible that the Dutch painter Johan Barthold Jongkind, whom Monet knew, may have prompted his aunt on this matter.

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