Claude Monet, the eldest son of a grocer, was born in Paris, France, in 1840. Some authors portray him as a brilliant artist. Others portray him as a selfish scoundrel. Either way, Monet was a leader in the Impressionist movement. He died in 1926.
When Monet was a child his family moved to Le Harve. By the time he was 15 years old, he was well known for his caricatures. As a youth he befriended the painter Eugene Boudin. It was from Boudin that Monet learned to paint landscapes outdoors. In 1859, Monet took Boudin's advice to go to Paris. There he studied at the Academie Suisse. At the Academie he made friends with Jean-Frederic Bazille, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Monet and his friends were more concerned about light and color than they were about a particular style. Soon the group revolted against the rigid formalism of the Academie by painting in the open air and using lighter colors in their work. Monet began to experiment with how outdoor light and atmosphere affect objects and landscapes. In 1874, Monet, Renior, Sisley, and other artists organized an exhibition of their work. It was there that Monet showed his "Impression, Sunrise", from which Impressionism got its name. Yet the public did not like the paintings, and the critics called the artists lunatics. Through the years Monet struggled to become accepted as a painter. Since the public did not like the new Impressionist style he could not make a living through selling his work. Often he ended up begging money from his friends, including Edouard Manet. But by 1883 his work was selling well, and in 1890 he was wealthy enough to buy a house and property in Giverny. There he made a water garden, which became the inspiration for many of his paintings. About 1890 Monet developed a "serial" technique, in which he painted the same scene or object under different light and atmospheres. Among these famous series are "Poplars" (1890), "Haystacks" (1891), and "Rowen Cathedral" (1894). Pictured above is his "Water Lilies" which he started painting in 1916 when he was nearly blind.
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