Any Claude Monet biography is going to be an interesting one, as he is known for being the creator of French Impressionist painting and revolutionizing art as we now know it. Monet is responsible for the idea of painting objects, people or landscapes in a non-literal way, a technique that, as reflected by the numerous Monet prints in homes everywhere, has permanently shaped the arts. Not only was he an innovative artist, he was also a great husband and father.
His Early Life
Claude Oscar Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris, the son of Claude-Adolphe, a grocery store owner, and Louise-Justine Aubree, a singer. Monet attended Le Havre Secondary School of the Arts as a young boy and quickly discovered a talent and love for painting. Soon after enrolling in the school, Monet began selling charcoal drawings to local townspeople; when he met Eugene Boudin, the young student learned to use oil paints. Monet left the school in 1857, at which point his mother had just passed away. The youngster went on to live with his aunt.
When Monet went to visit the Louvre, Paris' famous museum, he noticed artists copying the work of the artists that were hung on the walls. Monet instead not to duplicate existing work, but instead paint what he saw out the windows. This became the catalyst for his inventive style, which became known as impressionism.
Monet lived in Paris for several years, befriending many other painters and artists, including Edouard Manet. In 1861, Monet he left Paris, joining the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria for what had been intended to be seven years of service. Two years into the commitment, he contracted typhoid fever; his aunt made arrangements for him to be pulled out of military service.
After rejecting traditional art school and traditional teachings, Monet began studying under Charles Gleyre, through whom he met Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille. It was then he began to master the "en plein air" style of painting, which utilized large, quick brush strokes and bold, layered colors.
The Middle Years
In the years to follow, Monet painted a series of pictures including "The Woman in the Green Dress" and "The Woman in the Garden," which featured the woman who would later become his wife, Camille Doncieux. Before they were wed, the couple had a child they named Jean in 1867. A year later, Monet, facing financial pressure, attempted suicide after dealing with the pressures of financial struggle.
Monet and Camille married in 1870, moving to London shortly thereafter; the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War prompted the move. In England, Monet studied artists John Constable and Joseph William Turner. The move was shortlived, however, as the Royal Academy in London refused to display his paintings in an exhibit. Monet and his family returned to France in 1871, settling in Argenteuil, just outside.
It was in Argenteuil that Monet honed his impressionistic painting style; the name of this style comes directly from his 1872 work, "Impression, Sunrise."
Camille Monet gave birth to their second son, Michel, in 1878. The already frail woman never fully recovered from the birth, dying of tuberculosis in 1879. Monet took the death of his wife hard, grieving for months before committing even more fervently to the idea of creating masterpieces. The artist began to paint in series, which led to some of his most famous work, series of paintings that depict water lilies and willow trees.
The Later Years
Monet and his children moved several times. During his journey, Monet met Alice Hoshede, the wife of an arts patron. Monet married Hoshede in 1892, following the death of her estranged husband; Monet and his two children joined Hoshede and her six children in a relocation to Giverny. In Giverny, Monet continued his paintings of outdoor scenes inspired by his own garden. These paintings became his lifework and his best known pieces.
Monet continued developing his family life and life's work largely content until 1911, at which point Hoschede passed away. Monet's eldest son, Jean, died just three years later. After the personal losses, Monet himself faced health and professional hardship, as he developed cataracts in his eyes that made it impossible to see colors correctly.
Monet continued to paint, eventually undergoing eye surgery to remove the cataracts; after the successful procedure, the artist went back to his paintings and corrected the colors he has originally misinterpreted.
Towards the end of his life, the French government commissioned Monet to create a series of 22 paintings of a pond and Japanese bridge in his garden, which he finished in 1926. He died of lung cancer the same year, at the age of 83. Monet was buried in Giverny at a church cemetery. His home and gardens were donated to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966 by his family and heirs.