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Claude Monet

a booklet by

Chloe Vandenberg

Art History Honors

Spring 2018

Introduction

This booklet is dedicated to the life of Claude Monet. It includes a brief summary of his early years as well as a description of his style and how it developed from the others that influenced him. Additionally, I have included six of his most famous works and explored two of my personal favorites further. I’ve made this booklet to honor one of the most famous painters whose rebellious nature and tendency to challenge precedents and spearhead a new movement.

Monet's Life

Claude Oscar Monet was born on November 4th 1840 in Paris. His parents were Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet, both of them second-generation Parisians. He had an older brother. His family moved to Normandy in 1845. Monet’s mother was a singer and his father owned a grocery store. In April of 1851, Monet began at the Le Havre secondary school of the arts. Monet got his first drawing lessons from Jacques-François Ochard, but in 1956, he met fellow artist Eugène Boudin who became his mentor. Boudin is known for teaching Monet how to use oil paints. Boudin also trained Monet in "en plein air," which are outdoor techniques for painting. His schooling all came to a halt however, when in January 1857 his mother died and he was forced to leave school and live with his aunt. 

Le Havre, Normandy where young Monet grew up.

 Monet's Style

While the other painters around him would go to The Louvre and copy the artwork, Monet, would instead sit by a window and paint what he saw. In 1861 Monet joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria but he contracted typhoid. He aunt agreed to get Monet out of the army if he decided to complete an art course at a university. 

The Louvre Museum in Paris

A year later, Monet enrolled at Charles Gleyre in Paris. It was here that Monet befriended Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. They shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light “en plein air” using broken color and rapid brushstrokes, in what later came to be known as Impressionism. Impressionists, like Monet,  found that they could capture the momentary effects of sunlight by working quickly, in front of their subjects, in the open air (en plein air) rather than in a studio.

Charles Gleyre Self-Portrait

Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son

This oil-on-canvas was from 1875. He Monet demonstrates his skills in figure painting and the loose delineation of the figure allows for movement, emphasized the casual nature of a family outing rather than the rigidity of formal paintings. This painting can now be found at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Bain à la Grenouillère

This painting was completed in 1869 and the medium is oil on canvas. It can now be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. That summer, Monet placed his easel at La Grenouillère, a boating and bathing resort on the Seine River. Monet himself admitted that he had a dream of painting the baths of La Grenouillère.

Beach in Pourville

This painting was finished in 1882 while Monet was spending the winter in Pourville. The oil-on-canvas depicts the deserted beach with cliffs at either end. “Beach in Pourville” was stolen from the Poznan National Museum in September 2000. The painting wasn’t recovered until January of 2010 and it can now be found back at the museum.

Impression, Sunrise

‘Impression, Sunrise” was completed in 1872. It is also an oil-on-canvas. Mostly everything in the painting, the horizon, the water, the sky, and the reflections have all merged and muddled together. The buildings and ships in the background are only vague shapes and the red sun dominates the painting. Monet’s goal wasn’t to create an accurate landscape. Instead, he attempted to capture the impressions formed by looking at that landscape. It can now be found at Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris.

Springtime

This oil-on-canvas was completed in 1872 and can be found at The Walters Art Museum in Maryland. It depicts his first wife, Camille Doncieux and shows an enchanting nature of domestic life. Monet used unblended dabs of color to convey the effect of sunlight through leaves.

Women in the Garden

This is another oil-on-canvas that was finished in 1866. Monet aimed to fit figures into a landscape and give the impression that the air and light moved around them. The faces of the figures are very blurred and can’t be considered portraits.The painting was refused by the jury of the 1867 Salon which condemned the visible brushstrokes and regarded it as a sign of carelessness and incompleteness. The “Women in the Garden” can be seen at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

My first pick is “Impression, Sunrise.” This is one of Monet’s most famous paintings. What I like most about this is Monet’s depiction of the mist. It provides a hazy background and the gray-blue mist dominates the painting. Everything appears to merge together except for the striking orange sun and dark boats. The separate brushstrokes making up the water create the sense that the boats are being propelled forward. M. Louis Leroy, wrote a now famous article in Le Charivari in which he used the term "Impressionist" based on the title of this painting. Monet and those working around him adopted the term. It exemplifies the impressionist movement as it clearly challenges the clear and realistically precise artwork that preceded it. What inspires me is that Monet faced constant criticism that his unblended brushstrokes and loosely delineated figures looked unfinished and lacking in talent. However, Monet remained true to the work that he created.

My Top Two


Impression, Sunrise

My second pick is “Women in the Garden.” What I enjoy most about this painting is the strikingly bright and vibrant white dresses of the women. Something interesting is that his wife actually posed for all of the women in the painting. This makes sense as all of the women are indistinguishable from one another and their faces are hardly visible. This is the one way in this painting that Monet deviated from what was accepted by the French Academy. In this way it differs very greatly from the “Impression, Sunrise.” However, the fact that there is no relationship between the female figures and no storyline is another crucial way that the painting differs from more academically accepted artworks. The figures in the painting simply exist. Monet impressively utilized the white of the dresses, anchoring them firmly in the structure of the composition of dominating browns and green  provided by the central tree and the path. The painting evokes a sense of relaxation and domestic bliss. The figures appear comfortable and joyous in the enchanting garden. 

Women in the Garden

“Beach in Pourville by Claude Monet - Facts about the Painting.” Totally History, 28 Apr. 2013, totallyhistory.com/beach-in-pourville/.

Gallery, London The National. “Bathers at La Grenouillère.” The National Gallery, www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/claude-monet-bathers-at-la-grenouillere.

 “Impression Sunrise.” Artble, 19 July 2017, www.artble.com/artists/claude_monet/paintings/impression_sunrise.
 

“Springtime - Claude Monet - Google Arts & Culture.” Google, Google, artsandculture.google.com/asset/springtime/pAEsabNHoa1naA.

 “Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son.” Art Object Page, www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.61379.html.

“Women in the Garden (1866-7).” Women in the Garden, Monet: Analysis, Interpretation, www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/women-in-the-garden.htm.

“Women in the Garden (1866-7).” Women in the Garden, Monet: Analysis, Interpretation, www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/women-in-the-garden.htm.


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