Short Biography of Claude Monet
Although his impressionist paintings of water lilies and his garden are his most renowned works, during his lifetime Claude Monet worked to develop and prove that his style of art was more than en plein air. His style of art, he claimed, captured the true spirit of nature. It wasn’t until his service in North Africa that art connoisseurs and critics alike began taking notice of his extreme talent and prolific work.
Monet’s father ran and operated a small grocery store in Normandy. Wanting his son to follow in his footsteps, young Claude resisted as much as he could. He would talk to his mother, Louise-Justine Monet, about his artistic passions. She understood her son’s calling to art, as she herself was a singer. While Monet did average in school, he was known to be an amazing caricature artist. He would sell his charcoal caricatures to teachers, parents, and other students for lucrative profits, especially for a young boy. He knew from then on that living life as an artist would bring him true joy and hopefully enough income to survive.
Monet’s mother died when he was only 16 years old. As a result, he traveled and eventually moved to Paris. While there, he would visit historic monuments, including the Louvre, where he met other en plein air artists who began collaborating with Monet to develop a new style of painting – one that would offer a different sort of nature; of fast brush strokes and light manipulation. When Monet and Edouard Manet began collaborating, critics began paying attention. At first, they dismissed the style. It was completely atypical of the art movements of the period.
Monet later married and had two children with Camille Doncieux. Camille is depicted in the famous The Women in the Green Dress, called La Femme a la Robe Verte in French. Claude Monet had to serve in North Africa for the French, but returned after becoming ill. He then painted his famed Impression: Sunrise, called Impression: Soleil Levant in French, which was when the word impressionism was first coined.
After the death of his wife, Monet and his children moved to Poissy, France with Alice Hoschede, who would help bring up his family, and the two were married some ten years later. He would paint the Rouen cathedral and haystacks from different points of view and at different times of day to capture the varying lights throughout the day. It was Monet’s garden, however, and surrounding nature that inspired him to paint. He even constructed his studio outside in his garden, which is where his famed lily pond can still be found.