Claude Monet is one of my favorite artists, and I decided to write this article in tribute to the artist and his Impressionist style which has influenced so many.
Monet was born in Paris, France on Nov. 14, 1840 and was one of the main founders of Impressionism. The title of his painting Impression, Sunrise (seen below) was even used to give a name to the new art movement.
Impressionism was characterized by small brush strokes, movement, passage of time, effect of light, and an open composition.
In looking at Monet’s life, there are some things which stand out for me.
Claude Monet began his artistic training at a very young age.At just age 10, Monet studied at Le Havre, a secondary school for the arts. Back then, he became popular among locals for caricatures in charcoal. At about age 16, Claude Monet mentored under landscape artist Eugène Boudin, who taught him oil painting and plein air techniques. In 1859, Monet made the move to Paris, where he studied at Academie Suisse. He also befriended other artists, including Camille Pissarro, Charles Gleyre, Frederic Bazille, Alfred Sisley and Auguste Renoir.
I personally know many artists who began their life of art early by drawing. This is how I began. As a child I loved drawing landscapes. My family was poor at the time, so could not afford to pay for early art training. I sometimes wonder how far I would be now in my art career if things had been different, but try not to dwell on such things. I am grateful that I am an artist now, and know I have come a long way since my art school years (1996-1999).
Monet struggled and lived in poverty for many years.Claude Monet and the group of Impressionists strived to have their paintings exhibited at Salon de Paris, but were mostly declined. The Impressionist style actually received much opposition from the art community in France at the time. For a time he was supported financially by the art dealer Durand-Ruel. It was not until his stay in Giverny in 1883 that his art career even began to take off.
Poverty is not foreign to many artists in art history, neither is it today. I have often struggled with finding enough money to pay for food, clothes and even art supplies. The choice of becoming an artist has left me little options for a “day time job” in this province – and even those are scarce these days. But, I can say with a certainty that I have no regrets with being an artist.
I would regret it if I didn’t pursue my dreams.
He painted in spite of hardships, financial troubles and failing health.
Monet suffered from depression at different points of his life.He suffered a bout of depression after his wife passed away in 1911. Even in old age he struggled with self-doubt and despair, at times considering his life a failure.
I can certainly connect with him in that regard, as I am sure many other artists reading this can. But, like Monet, I struggle with self-doubt and get past it the best I can. I have even used depression and self-doubt as a resounding theme in my own work. Painting is what brings my life balance – without it I think I would just wither away.
During his later years, he worked on a series of large scale water lily paintings commissioned by a Paris museum - Orangerie des Tuileries. Monet painted these while suffering from eye problems and failing health, but was still determined to finish them. He said about this Waterlily series, “It is beyond my strength as an old man, and yet I want to render what I feel.”
Monet’s painting London, the Parliament, Effects of Sun in the Fog sold for over $20 million in 2004. Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil sold for $41.4 million in 2008. A little after this his painting Le bassin aux nymphéas sold at Christies for nearly $72 million. It would have been great if he could have enjoyed some of this wealth during his own lifetime!
His loosening and melding of forms led to further abstractions in painting and is recognized as a precursor for the abstract art movement. Monet has even been an influence for such artists as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning.
Monet is still influencing the work of many artists today. Just look at some of the artists featured at Artpromotivate, and you will see proof of that!