Claude Monet was a very important figure in the Impressionist movement which transformed French painting in the second half of the 19th century. Throughout his exceptionally long career, Monet consistently depicted the landscape and leisure activities of Paris and its environs in addition to the Normandy coast. He led the way to 20th-century modernism through developing a unique style that strove to capture – on canvas – the very act of perceiving nature.
His Early Life
Born Oscar-Claude Monet in France’s capital in 1840, Monet’s family relocated to Le Havre in 1845. There the young Monet met up with the artist Édoauard Boudin. Boudin encouraged him in the plein-air painting which would become the basis of his work.
His Early Career
In Paris, Monet met artists who would form the foundation of Impressionism. Among them were Édoauard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frederick Bazille as well as Alfred Sisley. Throughout these early years of his career, Monet and Camille Doncieux, who was his wife and model, lived in destitute poverty. In 1865, they had a group of paintings seized by creditors.
During the late 1860s and 1870s, Monet took part in a number of exhibitions which were staged in protest of the strict formalism of the Acamedie Salon show. Undeniably, it was Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise – which was painted in 1872 and exhibited in 1874 – that gave the Impressionist their name. An art critic, intending to satirize the group titled his review “L’Exposition des Impressionnistes,” a label which the painters enthusiastically adopted.
Camille Doncieux, The Women In Monet’s Life
Although the French landscape was unquestionably Monet’s muse, the artist did paint the other loves of his life: his family. Monet utilised Camille Doncieux as a model for a number of his paintings even before they married in the late 1800s. Woman with a Parasol is a theme Monet went back to, first with Camille and their son as well as much later with his second wife Alice.
An Ardent Horticulturist
Monet adored plants and when he got funding from his patron Paul Durand-Ruel to buy the house which he had been renting in Giverny, he started to embark on his final masterpiece: his garden. Ordering rare seeds – as well as working with a team of gardeners – Monet established a remarkable colour-filled view that would be a steady source of inspiration to his sumptuously painted scenes of the flower garden as well as Japanese-inspired water lily ponds.
It’s quite rare for a Monet piece to come onto the market. So when they do, there is quite an assault. In 2016 after an extremely short telephone bidding war, Monet’s Meule belonging to his Haystack series sold at Christies, New York for a record-breaking $81 447 500. This figure broke the previous record for the sale of a Monet, which was $80.4 million, when Le Bassin Aux Nympheas from his Water Lilies series sold in 2008.
It’s quite staggering to think that Monet’s work wasn’t automatically loved. However thanks to 19th century American collectors, Impressionism became a hit and soon the Parisian elite followed suit.