Thursday, March 6, 2008

Claude Monet

It’s terrible that I wrote nearly 150 posts before I said anything much about Claude Monet. If he wasn’t the first impressionist, he at least gave us the word for the movement, and that's a big deal. He also created some of the greatest examples of impressionism as he experimented with light and color and learned to portray subjects with quick brush strokes.

Monet was born in Paris in 1840 but his family moved to Normandy when he was 5. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist rather than go into the family grocery business, and so he went to school to learn technique. When he was 16, Monet met Eugene Boudin who taught him to paint outdoors, “en plein air.” When he went to Paris, many painters cooped themselves up in the Louvre and copied the works of the masters, as you’ve read about already on this blog, but Monet chose to develop the methods taught to him Boudin. He worked outdoors, painting scenes as he saw them rather than the way they were seen by artists who came before him.

Monet served briefly in the armed service until he became ill and had to return home. He met several budding artists, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and they began experimenting with the new style that would become impressionism.

During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Monet lived in England and studied works by great landscape artists such as John Constable.
In 1873 he painted Impression, Sunrise (shown above), the painting for which the entire Impressionism movement was named. The term “Impressionism” was originally meant as an insult by an art critic but the painters liked it and used the name to describe their style of painting.
After his wife died in 1879 (shown above on her death bed), Monet began in earnest to produce. He continued in the Impressionist style and tried to create a portrait of France with his paintings. In 1883 when he moved to Giverny and, over the next 10 years, planted his grand garden. He loved to paint the garden and the lily ponds. He painted his many series during this time, which showed the same subject at different times during the day. You’ve seen some of these series already, including Water Lilies, Rouen Cathedral, and Etretat.

Toward the end of his life, Monet developed cataracts in his eyes which affected the way he saw colors. He continued to paint anyway, but you can tell which paintings were created when his eyes were bad.

In 1926, at the age of 86, Monet died and was buried in Giverny.

Monet's Japanese Bridge at Giverny.

I'd like also to note that you can now visit Monet's garden. I have never seen it but I hope to someday!

Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 6.25/50hours
Yes, I'm a little behind. But I had to take a really long test.
That's my story.


Peter said...

Yes, Jessica, you must visit his garden and house! ... and also see the Sunrise Impression at the Mormattan museum! When will you be here?

Jessica said...

I have at least a year of school before I can start working as a teacher (and earning the money that buys plane tickets, etc.). But after that I'll have long summer breaks, perfect for overseas travel. So the answer is as soon as possible (which isn't soon enough!).

Anonymous said...

Just found this blog spot and love it. Thank you, Jessica. I hope by now you've gotten to Monet's Garden. Either way, I recommend a book I used for art days in my children's school: Linnea in Monet's Garden by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson. I paraphrased to shorten it (they were young children) and then did a project with them.