Impressionist master Claude Monet influenced many famous painters, including Van Gogh and Gauguin. Monet's landscapes radically overturned the conventional concept of landscape painting, expressing a new worldview and emotion.
He had a reputation for his paintings since he was a boy, and by the time he was in his teens, many of the works he had already painted were sold to many people.
This article introduces Monet's life as a painter and the birth of Impressionism.
Boyhood Determination to Live as a Painter
Monet was born in Paris on November 14, 1840, the second son.
From the age of five, he moved to a town along the Seine River, where he lived for most of his life. For this reason, the Seine is often featured in his works. Below is a work titled "Sunset on the Seine in Winter," which he painted when he was 40 years old.
At the age of 11, he entered a public junior high school, but he could not bear the thought of sitting still for four hours at a time, so he left school and painted along the beach instead.
Although he taught himself to paint, his talent was gradually recognized, as his paintings were displayed in a local stationery store. Gradually, his paintings began to draw attention, and more and more people began to order them.
The following is a work titled "View at Rouelles" that he painted around that time. It depicts the surface of the water, which Monet would continue to paint for the rest of his life.
At the age of 17, he decided to become a painter in earnest after the death of his mother.
Encounter in Paris
In order to study to become a painter, he overcame his father's opposition and went to Paris.
In Paris, he enrolled at the Académie Chaise, a free art school, where he met Camille Pissarro and other impressionist painters.
He also tried his hand at the Salon, and his first two seascapes, "Mouth of the Seine at Honfleur" and "La Pointe de la Hève at Low Tide," were accepted.
However, at the age of 21, when he was just beginning his career as a painter, he was drafted into the military and went to Algeria.
He ended up returning to France after about a year due to illness, but he says that the impressions of light and color he received in Algeria remained with him and greatly influenced his later works.
The Beginning of Impressionism
When he returned to Paris again, he entered the studio of Charles Grelle. There he met Frédéric Bazille, Renoir, and Manet. Monet united the members of Gleyre's group and created numerous works.
However, their paintings were not appreciated at all, because they were bright and vivid in color and depicted the subject matter as it was seen, whereas paintings of the past had depicted the subject matter clearly and in heavy colors.
Monet began to hold his own exhibitions. There, he painted the following work, "Impression, Sunrise." It depicts the port of his hometown of Le Havre. He is known for his many works depicting harbors. This work became the talk of the town and they came to be known as the "Impressionists." This work is said to symbolize his life as a painter.
Although his life as a painter was going very well, he was plagued by loneliness and poverty due to the recession of the French economy, deaths in his family, and conflicts with his fellow painters who did not share his values.
Water Lilies, Sorrow and Death
After moving to Giverny, Monet began work on his Waterlilies, of which it is said that he painted over 200 during his lifetime.
Below is one of the many "Waterlilies" that Monet painted, and the number 200 shows just how much he was devoted to his water lilies.
In the midst of this period, he was struck by a series of unfortunate events, including the deaths of friends and family members and the worsening of his own cataracts. Nevertheless, it is said that it was the production of "Waterlilies" that sustained him.
After that, his works were greatly appreciated by many people, and he donated a series of large-dress paintings to the government.
On December 5, 1926, he died of lung cancer.
Even after his death, Monet, the creator of Impressionism, is still talked about. Without him, painters such as Van Gogh and Gauguin might never have been active.
The Impressionist influence that Monet brought to the world continues to spread regardless of time and country.
Check out these Impressionist works by Japanese contemporary artists.