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The Life and Art of Claude Monet

Updated: Jun 20

Early Life

Claude Monet

Parisian painter Claude Monet changed the direction of the art world with both his talent and influence in the creation of Impressionism.  Born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, Monet was the second son of Claude Adolphe Monet and Louisa Justine Aubree Monet.  While his father wanted Monet to follow his lead and go into the family grocery business, Monet longed for a different life – the life of a painter.  His aunt, an amateur painter herself, was his first supporter and encouraged him to attend art school.  He attended Le Havre Secondary School of the Arts where he had his first success at age 15 when he sold charcoal caricatures on the streets.  

Monet’s Art Style and Impressionism

As Monet advanced in his art career, he found friends and mentors who introduced him to new mediums and places of inspiration. Among his favorites were the styles of Japanese prints, painting en plein air (outdoors), and nature. His medium of choice was oil paints.

Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet

As Monet gained confidence in his work, he developed his unique style. He began to pull away from painting the subject exactly as he saw before him, and instead painted the essence of the subject and how it made him feel. This produced paintings that had small visible brushstrokes, unblended colors, and an emphasis on light and open scenery. This style later became recognized as Impressionism. 

In 1872, Monet created a painting titled Impression, Sunrise.  This was one of the first Impressionism works and it is where the style got its name. It was shown in the first Impressionism exhibit in 1874 where it inspired a new generation of artists.      


Lasting Impact

Painting Inspired by Monet's Garden

In 1890 Monet purchased a home in Giverny France where he created a lush Asian-inspired water garden, complete with exotic plants, birds, and a pond.  This inspired him to paint one of his most recognizable series of paintings- The Water Lilies.  Throughout his life, Monet painted over 250 water lily paintings, including some that stretched over 6 feet tall. 


In 1926 Monet died in his home surrounded by his family.  He was a dedicated painter right up until his death despite having cataracts which affected his vision.  His house in Giverny stands as a museum and memorial to the famous painter and is open to the public. 

Monet's Garden in Giverny

Written by Erin Blais, University Intern

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