Oscar-Claude Monet was born November 14, 1840 in Paris, France, the second son of Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet. In 1845, the Monets moved to the port town of Saint-Adresse, near Le Havre. Young Claude obtained his “classical” education at La Havre’s secondary school.
Around 1856 or 1857, Monet began taking pastel and oil painting lessons from Eugene Boudin. Boudin, who worked primarily outdoors, encouraged Monet to do the same. Monet later said, “Suddenly the veil was torn away... My destiny as a painter opened out to me.” For the next 60+ years he explored the effects of light on outdoor scenes. He was the first artist to let his initial impressions stand as completed works, rather than as “notes” done in preparation for work in the studio. In 1859, Monet moved to Paris to pursue his art, where he met and befriended Camille Pissarro and Edouard Manet.
In 1870, Monet married his favorite model, Camille Doncieux. In 1871, the Monets settled in the village of Argenteuil on the Seine near Paris. He set up a boat with an easel and painted his way up and down the Seine, capturing his impressions of the interplay of light, water and atmosphere.
In 1874, Monet and a group of painters including Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir banded together to form a society of artists. They gave a public exhibition of their work at the studio of a Paris photographer. Monet exhibited a painting called “Impression: Sunrise.” His painting gave the group its name, coined in derision by critic Louis Leroy referring to the entire exhibition as “Impressionistic.” Despite the financial failure of this first exhibit, the Impressionist continued to exhibit together until 1886.
In 1883, Monet and his family settled in Giverny, France. He continued to explore his fascination with light in his “series” paintings where he depicted the same subjects, including the water lilies, pond, and Japanese bridge in his own gardens, in varying light and weather conditions. He also painted extensively along the Normandy coast.
Monet died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926 at the age of 86, and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. He continued to paint until the very end.
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