Monet, Claude

Monet, Claude

biographical name

(born Nov. 14, 1840, Paris, France—died Dec. 5, 1926, Giverny) French landscape painter. Monet spent his early years in Le Havre, where his first teacher, Eugène Boudin, taught him to paint in the open air. Moving to Paris, he formed lifelong friendships with other young painters, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Paul Cézanne. Beginning in the mid 1860s, Monet pursued a new style; rather than trying to reproduce faithfully the scene before him in detail, he recorded on the spot the impression that relaxed, momentary vision might receive. In 1874 he helped organize an independent exhibition, apart from the official Salon, of work he and his friends produced in this style. One of Monet's works at the exhibition, Impression: Sunrise (1872), inspired the journalist Louis Leroy to give the group its name. Throughout the 1870s, Monet and the other Impressionists explored this style and exhibited together. By 1881 the original group had begun to disintegrate; only Monet continued with the same fervour to carry on the scrutiny of nature. In his mature works Monet developed his method of producing a series of several studies of the same motif (e.g., haystacks, 1891, and Rouen Cathedral, 1894), changing canvases as the light or his interest shifted. In 1893, in the garden at his home in Giverny, Monet created the water-lily pond that inspired his most famous works, the lyrical Nymphéas (water-lilies) paintings. Wildly popular retrospective exhibitions of his work toured the world during the last decades of the 20th century and established his unparalleled public appeal, sustaining his reputation as one of the most significant and popular figures in the modern Western painting tradition.

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