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Claude Monet

1840-1926

 

Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840,  in Paris. A few years later, his family moved the the Normandie harbor town of Le Havre, where his father ran a marine trade supply store.  Monet spent most of his youth in Le Havre, drawing caricatures of the locals, a talent which got him into trouble at school.  Claude was a rebel, and he frequently disobeyed the rules.

Regardless of her son's insubordination in school, Louise Monet was very encouraging of her son's budding talent.  By the age of fifteen, Claude was selling caricatures for as much as 20 francs, which did not please his parents, who were well off from their prosperous business.  Nonetheless, Monet continued drawing caricatures, and wasn't really interested in painting until he met Eugène Boudin, the man who would become his mentor.  Boudin encouraged the young Monet to go outside and paint nature scenes, playing an important role in the young artist's development.

Louise Monet died shortly following her son's very first showing, but his Aunt, Marie-Jeanne, soon took over the care and support of the gifted teen, who was showing signs of true talent as a painter.

Claude went on to study at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, but being a true rebel as always,  rejected the schools traditional attitudes towards art, and left to study at the Académie Suisse, where he further refined his skills and met with fellow artists Camille Pissarro and Gustave Courbet.

Following a short stint in the military, Monet returned to Le Havre where he met with another artist, Johan Barthold Jongkind, who also helps shape his style.   Shortly thereafter, Monet joins the studio of Swiss painter Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he meets with other gifted artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and and Frédéric Bazille, giving birth to the impressionist movement.  It was clear even then that Monet was quickly becoming the leader of this group, instigating debates, and nurturing a rebellious attitude from his peers towards the artistic establishment.

But it wasn't until a year later, when Monet discovered the work of Edouard Manet at Martinet's where his work was being shown, that he would find true inspiration.  Claude Monet then paints "en plein air", in the forest of Fontainebleau, with his friend Bazille.

Inspired by Manet, Claude Monet worked on large canvases, and by then, he had become such a perfectionist that he refused to paint unless the light of the sun reflected exactly the way he wanted it. In one instance even had a trench dug, and a large canvas  mounted on ropes and pulleys, so her could work without having to lose his line of sight.

Although Monet mostly painted nature scenes, he sometimes included human figures in his paintings.  One day, he had his friend Bazille, and a lady named Camille Doncieux pose for a painting of a Picnic (Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe); little did he know she would one day become his lover, his wife, and the subject of many of his works.  

Continued on the next page...

 

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