Claude Monet and Impressionism
Claude Monet was born in Paris on the 14th November, 1840. When he was five years old, he moved to the port town of Le Havre. For much of his childhood, Monet was considered by both his teachers and his parents to be undisciplined and, therefore, unlikely to make a success of his life. Enforcing this impression, Monet showed no interest in inheriting his father’s wholesale grocery. The only subject which seemed to spark any interest in the child was painting. He developed a decent reputation in school for the caricatures he was fond of creating. By the age of fifteen, he was receiving commission for his work.
It was at Le Havre that Monet met the painter Eugene Boudin. While Boudin’s own paintings have never been held in that high regard, he is seen as having played a critical role in the education of Monet. Born of a seafaring family in 1824, Boudin was obsessed with the idea of painting outdoors or en plein air . The two painters met in 1856 and, at first, Monet resisted Boudin’s offer of tuition but he eventually relaxed his protestations and before long, the two had forged a relationship that was to last a lifetime. Although Monet soon left Le Havre to spend a large part of his life traveling throughout Europe, he returned frequently to visit his old friend. The interest that had been sparked some years earlier was refined and shaped and Monet was in no doubt as to the extent to which his outlook on life had been altered:
My eyes were finally opened and I understood nature; I learned at the same time to love it.
Boudin may have opened Monet’s eyes, he may have even convinced the young painter to break with tradition and finish his paintings outdoors, but the young protege had yet to truly experience the country’s capital. Before long, the limitations of L e Havre on a burgeoning young artist became all to apparent and, in 1859, Monet left for Paris. However, having displaced himself to the heart of Europe’s art-world, Monet soon found himself disillusioned by the confines of long-since established principles. He rejected the formal art training that was available in Paris. Bored and frustrated, Monet was to do more painting at the very relaxed Academie Suisse then in the formal schools for which he had left Le Havre.
In the Spring of 1862, Monet was called up for National Service. He went to Algeria for…
… that extent, Monet remained loyal to his initial mission. At the same time, aesthetic virtues required Monet to rework brushstrokes, add more precise lines, and alter color harmonies for decorative effect.
Monet’s method is both scientific and painterly. The only way Monet could capture his version of “the truth of a moment” required a bit of “lying.” Monet’s method made accommodations to his underlying philosophy of instantaneity and attention to decorative elements. Monet attempted to reconcile the idea of capturing a moment and his supposition that all moments absolute truth contains a harmony colors. His method of painting recognizes the necessities of both philosophies.
1. Paul Tucker. Monet in the 90s: the seires paintings, Boston: Museum of Fine Arts inassociation with Yale University Press, 1995.
2. Paul Tucker. Monet : Life and Art, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.
3. Virginia Spate. Monet: Life and Work, New York: Rizzoli, 1992.
4. Impressionism: Herbert. Yale University Press. 1988
5. Encyclopedia of World Art. McGrow Hill, London. 1965
6. Encyclopedia Britannica. University of Chicago Press. 15th Ed. Founded 1768