Advanced Topics in Foreign Language
“Skills come and go… Art is always the same: a transposition of nature that requests as much will as sensitivity.” This quote by Claude Monet displays one of his many opinions on the craft. He believed that an artist had to have a painting in his head before starting, and was sure of the way he was going to execute it. Other than that, however, there was not much to understand. All else that art required of a person was to love. As arguably the most famous impressionist, Monet’s opinion is popular in the artistic community. His words were not always revered, or even well known, as his career did not take hold until around 1865. His prior success was limited, though he did not despair. Through his dedication to it, Monet reshaped the future of art. Through even the most devastating of struggles, he produced some of the most famous and valuable pieces in the world.
Oscar-Claude Monet was born on the fourteenth of November, 1840, in Paris, France. His father was a grocer named Claude Adolphe Monet. His mother was a trained singer named Louise-Justine Aubrée-Monet. When Monet was five years old, his family moved to Le Havre, in Normandy. Even early on in life art was a main interest in his life, and he enrolled in the Le Havre Secondary School of Art in 1851. According to author Jeremy Wallis, he is quoted as saying “[School] seemed like a prison, and I could never bear to stay there.” His childhood, and first, art instructor was named Jacques François Ochard, a prior student of Jacques-Louis David. He did not like school, however, and preferred being outside. As his love for art grew, Monet gained popularity with local residents by offering to draw caricatures of them for ten to twenty francs apiece.
Monet’s mother, Louise-Justine, died in January of 1857. Monet was sixteen years old. He then left school and went to live with his aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre, who was widowed and childless. Later, he met with Eugene Boudin, after having seen some of his paintings. Boudin believed that Monet had too much talent to be spending it doing charcoal caricatures. Monet did not go into the encounter with high expectations. “[Boudin’s] paintings inspired me with an intense aversion and, without knowing the man, I hated him.” Boudin took him to paint at Rouelles, near Le Havre. As Monet watched him work, he realized what paintings had the potential to be. They developed a friendship despite a fifteen year age difference, and they painted outside together using portable easels and oil paint in tubes. It was through Eugene Boudin that he discovered his destiny to become an artist.
In 1860, Monet joined a regiment in a cavalry in Algeria on a seven year contract. His military service would not last that long. Two years later, he contracted typhoid fever and returned home. The risk of rejoining the army was great, and aunt agreed to pay his way out of service and support him if he began taking his art career seriously. In late 1862, Monet returned to Paris to join the studio of Charles Gleyre. There, he met other artists and fellow students Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Frederic Bazille. He delved further into plein air painting, and was often joined by Sisley, Renoir, and Bazille. He began to develop his unique painting style, rejecting traditional styles and using bright colors and small, rapid brush strokes. His style was well liked, and in 1865 two of his paintings were accepted into the Salon exhibition. His pair of seascapes were among the most acclaimed at the show. The next year, in 1866, Monet submitted Woman in the Green Dress, a portrait of his companion Camille Doncieux, whom he had met in 1863. Woman in the Green Dress was selected for display along with a landscape portrait, and Monet’s popularity continued to grow. He would exhibit once more at the Salon in 1866 with a...
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