Claude Monet was born on November 14th, 1840, in Paris, France, where he would go on to spend much of his adult life living. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to the parish of Le Havre in Normandy. In the early 1850s, Monet would be enrolled in a local secondary school for the arts, where he first developed an appreciation for painting. He became known around the town fro his charcoal caricatures, which he peddled. Around the same time, he met Eugene Boudin, an artist who mentored him in painting natural scenes. Despite his burgeoning interest in the arts, his family wanted him to go into a more traditionally lucrative business. However, when he moved back to Paris later in life, Monet would begin to draw influence from other artists living and working there, and was thus inspired to create some of the masterpieces for which he is most known.
Style and Body of Work
Monet is most known for his work influencing the Impressionist movement. The term "impressionism" can even be drawn from him, as the moniker is pulled from the title of his work "Impression, Sunrise". One of the main tenets of the movement is to draw one's owns conclusions about perceptions of the natural world and to invoke a creative, differential approach to depicting it. Monet painted mostly "plein-air", or outdoor landscapes, and his use of color and shape brought a unique vision to the way the natural world was viewed. His work went on to influence many other Impressionist artists over the next century, as the movement became an essential part of European and American art in the next decades.
"The Artist's Garden at Giverny", 1900.
"The Corn Poppies", 1873.
"Water Lilies", 1919.
"Garden Path at Giverny", 1902.
"Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist's Garden in Argenteuil", 1875.
"The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny", 1899.
Analysis: "Woman with a Parasol, Facing Left"
This 1886 work is one of Monet's most recognizable paintings, and also one of my personal favorites. It depicts a woman standing with a parasol in the middle of a field. She is depicted with Monet's trademark loose, unstructured brushstrokes, such that she only just comes together fully. She seems to become lost within the grass and sky, the white of her clothing molding into the natural elements of the painting, becoming indistinguishable. The stark white, blue, and green in the work is evocative and beautiful.
Analysis: "Central Fragment of Luncheon on the Grass"
This 1865 work is relatively early in the Monet canon. It depicts four people enjoying a picnic lunch in the woods. I think I am particularly interested in the way Monet depicts human beings. Usually so focused upon the natural world, it is refreshing to see a depiction of such a mundane, simple, human-driven scene. The figures seem to be at ease, depicted in natural, casual fashion. As in later works, they are not totally clearly depicted, with somewhat distorted faces and shapeless forms, particularly the woman seated.