9 November 2012
Claude Monet: The Impressionist
Claude Monet was a French Impressionist painter born on November 14th, 1840. Monet was born in Paris and was the second son to Claude Adolphe Monet and Louise Justine Aubree. On May 20th 1841, Claude Monet was baptized in the local parish church under the name of Oscar-Claude. Shortly after his birth and baptism, Claude Monet and his family moved to Le Havre in Normandy. The mid-forties brought with it a serious economic crisis and apparently a fall in trade for Monet’s father. Monet’s father was in the grocery business and he expected Monet to follow in his footsteps and carry out the family business. Monet grew up in a commercially-oriented household. Only his mother showed an interest in the arts. Her early death in 1857 was a severe blow to the seventeen year old Monet. He found sympathy for his artistic leanings with his aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre. Madame Lecadre was not only in contact with the Parisian painter Armand Gautier, but had her own studio where she painted for pleasure and in which Monet was a welcome visitor. Monet’s relationship with his father deteriorated with time and was not improved when he decided to leave school in 1857; not to mention Monet left school shortly before his final exams. Not helping his case much. At school he received his first drawing lesson from Francois-Charles Ochard. These lessons appear to have had no profound influence on Monet, however. His memories of the period refer exclusively to the witty drawings and caricatures of his teachers and other things. Monet’s caricatures of the citizens of Le Havre, which rapidly earned him 2000 Francs, brought him a degree of local celebrity. In fig. 2, is an example of one of Monet’s caricature drawing, (Caricature of a Man with a Large Nose graphite on paper 25 x 15 cm.) Monet was introduced to Boudin who praised Monet for his drawings. It was a turning point. Boudin took the young man with him on painting excursions into the surrounding countryside. He convinced Monet that objects painted directly in front of the motif possessed a greater vitality that those created in the studio. Monet later ascribed his decision to become a painter to his encounter with Boudin, with whom he remained in close contact with for the rest of his life. “The fact that I’ve become a painter I owe to Boudin. In his infinite kindness, Boudin undertook my instruction. My eyes were slowly opened and I finally understood nature. I learned at the same time to love it. I analyzed its forms, I studied its colours. Six months later…I announced to my father that I wanted to become a painter and went off to Paris to study art.” So Monet wanted to become a painter. It was an idea his father eventually accepted but not without difficulty and after much persuasion from Monet’s aunt. Monet’s first oil painting was, “View of Rouelles” (seen in fig. 3.) This painting was also known as, "Vue des bords de la Lezarde" because it showed a valley and streams either the Rouelles or the Lezarde, which the Rouelles flowed into. Presumed lost, the painting was discovered after hundred years and positively identified. He joined the studio of the Swiss-born painter Charles Gleyre in Paris, in 1862, where he had been for approximately two years. There he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frederic Bazille and Alfred Sisley. All four of them had new approaches to art and they all painted the effects of light "en plain air" with broken color and rapid brushstrokes. That's exactly what became known as Impressionism. This period was very important; it was the culmination point of the movement Impressionism and some of Monet's best works had been painted in Argenteuil. One of the most famous Monet's paintings is “Impression: The Sunrise” (seen in fig.4) painted in 1872 or 1873, from whose title the entire movement had got name. It was art critic Louis Leroy, who coined the term Impressionism, and it had been derogatory, but,...
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