The Life and Art of Claude Monet

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Claude Oscar Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris, France and died at the age of 86 on December 5, 1926 in Giverny, France. Claude was the oldest son of his family and became very fond of nature beginning at a very young age (“Claude Monet Biography”, His first encounter with nature was when he spent his youth roaming the beaches and observing his surroundings after moving to Le Havre, Normandy for his father to start a grocery store business. Monet’s father, Claude Adolphe Monet, wanted him to take over the grocery store one day but Monet always had an eye for art and creativity. Monet’s childhood was not the greatest and had many challenges he had to hurdle through. Monet’s mother, Louise Justine Aubree Monet, died when Claude was only sixteen years old and dropped out of his school, a secondary school of the arts in his hometown. He also moved to live with Marie-Jeanne Lecadre, Monet’s aunt (“Biography of Claude Oscar Monet”,

Monet first start out as an artist when he was fifteen years old when created caricatures. His official career did not really start until he met Eugene Boudin where he was introduced to the true nature of painting. In 1859 to 1860, he visited Paris and became known to Charles Daubigny and Constant Troyon and their paintings. However, with all the inspiration to pursue an art career, he took a toll in 1861 to 1862 when he needed to serve in the military in Algeria. During his time in the service, he became inspired to visit Morocco after his service in 1832 (“Claude Monet French Painter” by William C. Seitz, After returning to his childhood hometown, Le Havre, Normandy, Monet met Johan Barthold Jongkind and then began studying in Paris again. Monet’s study at the National School of Fine Art and Academie Suisse was where he found himself as an artist and became inspired to paint.
In his academic life, he was full of spirit to learn about the importance of art. Monet studied at Academie Suisse and became friends with Camille Pissarro, a large influencer on the Impressionism movement of art (“Claude Monet French Painter” by Kathleen Adler, However, at Academe Suisse, he did not find himself as an artist so he began to develop his art career on his own. With the new colors introduced at the time, it became easy for him to soon become a key painter during the Impressionist movement (“Claude Monet Biography”, Around the time when Monet left his school, he also became aware of Japanese prints. The discovery of Japanese prints were important to his art career because it was a large influence on French artists (“Claude Monet French Painter” by William C. Seitz).

Claude Monet is famous because he was one of the first artists to be part of the Impressionist movement (“Claude Monet Biography”, Monet, in a way, invented a new style of art and used the new techniques to further the world of art. He was one the first Impressionist who paved the way for other artists to bring life to new artistic movements that stray away from the traditions of art work before. In the beginning of his art career, he did not receive much satisfactory responses toward his works but after many years of painting and perseverance, his works became known and indefinitely remembered. For example, Monet’s Water Lilies collection of oil paintings featuring water lilies were brought into the art world after the connection toward Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings. The floral and nature theme of the paintings is what began the fame of the Water Lilies (“Why are Monet’s water-lilies so popular” by Alastair Smart).

Impressionism is the technique in which artists created their pieces of art in a different perspective and using color to illustrate the world around them (“How Monet and the Impressionists Paved the Way for Modern Art” by Alison Chang). Monet’s paintings had many qualities of Japanese prints as he portrayed some aspects of the Japanese culture in his works. Like his Camille Monet in Japanese Costume where Claude’s wife was shown wearing a beautiful kimono and Japanese fans in the background.

Artists like Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, berthe Morisot, and many more were changed the history of art by straying away from the traditional artworks during that time (“How Impressionism Changed the Art World and Continues to Inspire Us Today” by Kelly Richman-Abdou). Impressionists used a lot of color and paint to create the texture of the art piece portrays. They do not mix the paint colors they desire but instead, use the brush to create the color as they are painting and it creates a different effect on the painting in the end.

Impressionism started during the 1860s in Europe but then was beginning to spread throughout the United States. Impressionists were important because they concentrated on the importance of reality and portraying the real world instead of a world of perfection using non traditional techniques of light and color to create an effect that would soon still affect the art world today (“Impressionism” by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). These artists strayed away from the techniques they were used to seeing and introduced the world to a new type of art and creativity.

The art world has used the inspiration of impressionism to begin new movements that would influence present day artists. Impressionism inspired “the Symbolism, Fauvism, and Cubism” (“How Monet and the Impressionists Paved the Way for Modern Art” by Alison Chang) movements of art history and showed that there are no limits to art. During the post-impressionism movement, artists began to come out and try new techniques, styles, colors, and etc. Post Impressionism began in the 1880s and soon it led to the path of modern art. Yet both led to different types of art, impressionism and post-impressionism both largely impacted the art world with the introduction of new techniques, materials, ideas, and perspectives.

The Water Lilies is a thirty-three series of paintings painted by Claude Monet. These paintings were created at different times from 1897-1926 and each are oil paintings. Some of Monet’s Water Lily pieces names are: Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge (1897-1899), Pond with Water Lilies (1907), Sea-Roses (1916), Blue Water Lilies (1916-1919), and many more. In this essay, I will be focusing on Monet’s Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow painted from 1916 to 1919. In this oil painting, you can see a pond with some water lilies laying on top. There are a lot of trees surround the pond. The foreground seems to be the pond, the middle ground is many water lilies, and the background seems to be many trees dangling down over the pond. There is a lot of texture to the painting because the paint used seems very thick and rich.

I think the collection shows that there is an emphasis on the water lilies and the titles help to show that there is a focal point of the painting. The movement of painting shows that the pond continues to go; sort of like it is infinite and there is no end. In my opinion, I do not see much balance in the painting because there is so much green colored objects and the color of green seems a bit overused. The repetition of the green shows the true nature of what Monet was trying to portray. However, the limited color selection of this painting brings out the brightly colored water lilies.

The mood of the painting is very calming and soothing. It seems very peaceful and it brings a very relaxing mindset when viewing the painting. I think the symbol of this painting is the focal point of the whole collection: the water lilies. The water lilies symbolize something that is very easy going and shows a very simple living thing in nature that represents so much calmness. I think Monet was trying to show what he sees and that he wants his audience to see the smaller things in life because they are truly beautiful. The water lily shows up in all the paintings he has painted in this series but all is shown in a different way; some are the main focal point, but others are smaller and in the background.

This artwork is successful according to imitationalism and literal qualities because Monet uses the realistic aspects of the world he sees and portrays it into his paintings. It imitates the reality of what he is seeing with his own eyes. I also think it is successful because he creates a collection of paintings that circulate around the water lily. The water lily is a very simple but meaningful object that people see. Also, when reading about more about this series he has created, I found it very meaningful that he had spent so much time observing the water lilies. He captured a perspective of the water lily that he sees. I think Monet’s paintings are successful because he takes the reality of what he sees; he does not change the perspective to please the audience.

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Claude Monet., A&E Networks Television, 15 Jan. 2019,
Adler, Kathleen. Camille Pissarro. Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 Feb. 2019,
Chang, Alison. How Monet and the Impressionists Paved the Way for Modern Art. Artsy, 13 Dec. 2017,
Tribe, Yugen, and Shovava. How Impressionism Changed the Art World and Continues to Inspire Us Today. My Modern Met, 27 June 2018,
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Smart, Alastair. Why Are Monet’s Water-Lilies so Popular? The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 18 Oct. 2014,

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