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The Life Story of Claude Monet

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Claude Monet, a French artist born in Paris in 1840, lived a long life of 86 years - passing away in Giverny in 1926. Throughout his entire life, Monet continuously painted and developed his skills, eventually becoming one of the most influential forces behind the Impressionism movement at the dawn of the 20th century. His art still serves as a symbol of the highest expression of Impressionism, filling us with excitement.

The exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris is currently hosting the biggest event dedicated to Monet in the past 30 years - since 1980. With additional festivities in celebration, this exhibition has sparked new research into the artist's work and illuminated it in an exciting new way.

This exhibition is a special treat, with Monet's works on loan from various prestigious museums worldwide - from Brazil, Moscow, New York and Stockholm, as well as from the Ursa Museum, which is not known to lend its collection often. The Marmotton Museum in Paris even opened a special exhibition of Monet's pieces after they refused to loan out any of his paintings. For the first time, we can observe the Impressionists' interpretation of the same subject captured in different times of the day and year, under different lighting conditions.
The show at the Grand Palais is all about Monet's artworks from his home country of France - not those he made while traveling to European countries like England, Holland, Venice, and Sweden. And the best part? They'll be screening films about Monet and Impressionism every day - and it's completely free.

Appointed at the beginning of his life

Claude Monet was born in 1840 in the city of Paris, but his family soon relocated to Le Havre, Normandy. His father wanted him to take over the family grocery store, yet Monet was determined to fulfill his dream of becoming a painter. His mother, on the other hand, was a singer.

Monet was admitted to an art-focused high school and was renowned for his caricatures, which he sold for between 10-20 francs. Some of them are currently held in Marmotton Museum in Paris. On the beaches of Normandy, he encountered Eugene Boudin, who soon became his mentor and introduced him to painting outdoors, using oil paints. Both of them were inspired by John Bertold Junkind.

When Mona was 16, his mom passed away, and he moved in with his aunt who was a widow with no children. In 1861, he enlisted in the military in Algeria, intending to serve for seven years. Unfortunately, he became ill after two years and his aunt stepped in to rescue him, freeing him from the military and sending him back to Paris to pursue art studies.

On the way to Impressionism

Claude Monet was far from pleased with the prevailing custom of copying classical artworks in the Louvre so he decided to study at the Swiss Academy and Charles Glier's studio in Paris. Here he connected with Frédéric Basile, Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, all of whom were passionate about painting outdoors. The first painting he submitted to the Academy Salon in 1868 was highly acclaimed but all of his works after that were rejected - much to his distress - as his financial troubles worsened. It's worth noting that the Academy was heavily influenced by those who were in Favor of classical painting and had no interest in any kind of revolutionary approach to art. As a result, some of the greatest artists of all time were denied acceptance to the Academy. In response, they started the "Salon des Refusés", which is an amusing name if you think about it...
In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began and Monet and his family decided to move to London. There he was reunited with Sisley, Pissarro and Daubigny, who were already living there. Monet was also introduced to the art dealer Paul Duran-Ruel who, in turn, was able to increase his financial security by selling his artwork. While in London, Monet was able to meet English artists such as Constable and Turner who had a great influence on his paintings. He was thrilled to be able to learn from them.
When Monet came back to France, he settled in Argenteuil near Paris (1874-1873) where he encountered Renoir and Menet, who would eventually join the Impressionist movement. In contrast to Mena who attempted to astound viewers with works like "Breakfast on the Grass" (1863) featuring a nude woman reclining between two suited gentlemen, Monet sought to captivate people with the loveliness of nature and the vibrancy of his hues.

After two years (1865), motivated by Mena, Monet also created his own rendition of "Breakfast on the Grass", which included the figures in the nude. The completed painting, which is small in size, is now preserved in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad and is part of the exhibition here (at the Grand Palais), along with the other works from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. These pieces are a testament to his ambitious attempt to capture the subject on a large scale, although he never finished it based on his sketch. Nevertheless, these pieces are true masterpieces!

The Argentinian artist was fascinated by the ever-changing beauty of the Seine, and so captured its banks and sailing events in their work, using strong and dynamic brush strokes.

In 1874, a display of works by a collection of artists who would be labeled as the Impressionists was organized. Monet was one of the major figures of the group. The style got its name from the marvelous painting created by Monet depicting the sunrise in the port of Le Havre, which he named "Impression, Sun Rise". Monet and his fellows concentrated on outdoor painting and the effects of light, and they were thrilled to do so.

The house and garden in Giverny

In 1878, Monet relocates to Vitti and by 1883, he moves to Giverny where he remains until his death. His exceptional eye and deftness with color made Monet the most devoted of the impressionists in refining their aesthetic.

In 1890, Monet acquired the Giverny estate, which became the ideal backdrop for his artwork. He carefully crafted his garden and was especially inspired by the lake and its water lilies, or nymphaea. He painted the same subjects at various times of the day, taking into consideration the different lighting conditions, and the result was a stunning collection of water lilies in a range of hues, from blue and purple to red and orange. It's remarkable to think that Monet's vision and artistic genius gave us these tremendous works of art!

At the Orangerie Museum in the Tuileries Gardens, Monet's impressive and multi-dimensional artwork adorns the walls of two round halls. As one strolls through the halls, one can witness the alteration of the paintings throughout the day and year, accompanied by classical music. With his obsessive dedication to one subject, Monet ventured into the realm of the abstract, making him ahead of his time. Today, researchers honor him as a pioneer of the abstract movement in the twentieth century, and it is truly exciting!

his personal life

Monet tied the knot with his partner and muse Camille-Léonie Doncieux, who he captured in his renowned artworks like 'Woman in the Garden' and 'On the Banks of the Seine'. In 1867, the couple had their first son, Jean (who sadly passed away in a car crash near Giverny), and their second son, Michel, was born in 1878. Sadly, the delivery of the second baby took a toll on Camille's frail health and she succumbed to tuberculosis in 1879 at 32 years old.

In 1878, the Monet family joined forces with the Hoschedé family, whose head was an affluent owner of a department store and a patron of the arts. When Ernest Hoschedé relinquished his wealth and went to Belgium and after Camille passed away in 1879, Alice Hoschedé assisted Monet in caring for his two kids, thus forming the Hoschedé-Monet family that included her six children and his two kids. They shared a residence in Giverny and eventually got wed, and their bond became even more powerful when one of Monet's sons married one of Alice's daughters.

his death

When Monet passed away from lung cancer in 1926 at the age of 86, he was interred in the graveyard near the Giverny church. He specifically requested a quiet funeral, so only around 50 people were present. His son Michel got the house and artworks in Giverny and bequeathed them to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966. Michel donated over a hundred of Monet's works to the Marmaton Museum, also known as the Monet Museum. The beautiful home and garden in Giverny can now be visited by the public, who can marvel at the artist's belongings and his Japanese prints. Excitingly, it has been transformed into a living museum!

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