Monet

Monet

[moh-ney; Fr. maw-ne]
Monet, Claude, 1840-1926, French landscape painter, b. Paris. Monet was a founder of impressionism. He adhered to its principles throughout his long career and is considered the most consistently representative painter of the school as well as one of the foremost painters of landscape in the history of art.

As a youth in Le Havre, Monet was encouraged by the marine painter Boudin to paint in the open air, a practice he never forsook. After two years (1860-62) with the army in Algeria, he went to Paris, over parental objections, to study painting. In Paris, Monet formed lasting friendships with the artists who would become the major impressionists, including Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille. He and several of his friends painted for a time out-of-doors in the Barbizon district.

Monet soon began to concern himself with his lifelong objective: portraying the variations of light and atmosphere brought on by changes of hour and season. Rather than copy in the Louvre, the traditional practice of young artists, Monet learned from his friends, from the landscape itself, and from the works of his older contemporaries Manet, Corot, and Courbet. Monet's representation of light was based on his knowledge of the laws of optics as well as his own observations of his subjects. He often showed natural color by breaking it down into its different components as a prism does. Eliminating black and gray from his palette, Monet rejected entirely the academic approach to landscape.

In his later works Monet allowed his vision of light to dissolve the real structures of his subjects. To do this he chose simple matter, making several series of studies of the same object at different times of day or year: haystacks, morning views of the Seine, the Gare Saint-Lazare (1876-78), poplars (begun 1890), the Thames, the celebrated group of Rouen Cathedral (1892-94), and the last great lyrical series of water lilies (1899, and 1904-25), painted in his own garden at Giverny (one version, a vast triptych c.1920; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City).

In 1874 Sisley, Morisot, and Monet organized the first impressionist group show, which was ferociously maligned by the critics, who coined the term impressionism after Monet's Impression: Sunrise, 1872 (Mus. Marmottan, Paris). The show failed financially. However, by 1883 Monet had prospered, and he retired from Paris to his home in Giverny. In the last decade of his life Monet, nearly blind, painted a group of large water lily murals (Nymphéas) for the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.

Monet's work is particularly well represented in the Louvre, the Marmottan (Paris), the National Gallery (London), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. It is also included in many famous private collections.

Bibliography

See biographies by W. C. Seitz (1960) and C. M. Mount (1967); Claude Monet: Life and Art (1995) by P. H. Tucker; studies by J. House (1986), D. Skeggs (1987), and M. and J. Guillaud (1989).

(born Nov. 14, 1840, Paris, France—died Dec. 5, 1926, Giverny) French landscape painter. Monet spent his early years in Le Havre, where his first teacher, Eugène Boudin, taught him to paint in the open air. Moving to Paris, he formed lifelong friendships with other young painters, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Paul Cézanne. Beginning in the mid 1860s, Monet pursued a new style; rather than trying to reproduce faithfully the scene before him in detail, he recorded on the spot the impression that relaxed, momentary vision might receive. In 1874 he helped organize an independent exhibition, apart from the official Salon, of work he and his friends produced in this style. One of Monet's works at the exhibition, Impression: Sunrise (1872), inspired the journalist Louis Leroy to give the group its name. Throughout the 1870s, Monet and the other Impressionists explored this style and exhibited together. By 1881 the original group had begun to disintegrate; only Monet continued with the same fervour to carry on the scrutiny of nature. In his mature works Monet developed his method of producing a series of several studies of the same motif (e.g., haystacks, 1891, and Rouen Cathedral, 1894), changing canvases as the light or his interest shifted. In 1893, in the garden at his home in Giverny, Monet created the water-lily pond that inspired his most famous works, the lyrical Nymphéas (water-lilies) paintings. Wildly popular retrospective exhibitions of his work toured the world during the last decades of the 20th century and established his unparalleled public appeal, sustaining his reputation as one of the most significant and popular figures in the modern Western painting tradition.

Learn more about Monet, Claude with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Nov. 14, 1840, Paris, France—died Dec. 5, 1926, Giverny) French landscape painter. Monet spent his early years in Le Havre, where his first teacher, Eugène Boudin, taught him to paint in the open air. Moving to Paris, he formed lifelong friendships with other young painters, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Paul Cézanne. Beginning in the mid 1860s, Monet pursued a new style; rather than trying to reproduce faithfully the scene before him in detail, he recorded on the spot the impression that relaxed, momentary vision might receive. In 1874 he helped organize an independent exhibition, apart from the official Salon, of work he and his friends produced in this style. One of Monet's works at the exhibition, Impression: Sunrise (1872), inspired the journalist Louis Leroy to give the group its name. Throughout the 1870s, Monet and the other Impressionists explored this style and exhibited together. By 1881 the original group had begun to disintegrate; only Monet continued with the same fervour to carry on the scrutiny of nature. In his mature works Monet developed his method of producing a series of several studies of the same motif (e.g., haystacks, 1891, and Rouen Cathedral, 1894), changing canvases as the light or his interest shifted. In 1893, in the garden at his home in Giverny, Monet created the water-lily pond that inspired his most famous works, the lyrical Nymphéas (water-lilies) paintings. Wildly popular retrospective exhibitions of his work toured the world during the last decades of the 20th century and established his unparalleled public appeal, sustaining his reputation as one of the most significant and popular figures in the modern Western painting tradition.

Learn more about Monet, Claude with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Musée Marmottan-Monet is located at 2, rue Louis Boilly in the XVIe arrondissement of Paris. It features a collection of a hundred Impressionist works by Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as the Wildenstein Collection of illuminated manuscripts.

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