The founding father of the Impressionist movement, Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) is one of the greatest universal painters. Passionate about fine arts from an early age, Monet made pencil caricatures that he sold to passers-by for 10-20 francs.
He studied at an art school in Paris (1851), preferring to drop out of high school after a while to devote more time to his future career as a painter. He continued in the spirit that launched him, namely the creation of caricatures, his talent being immediately noticed by the French painter Eugene Boudin who suggested Monet to approach landscape painting.
Monet embraced the proposal, so his first paintings are outdoors, on the beaches of Normandy. About Boudin, Monet would say that this is his supreme master to whom he owes everything.
Love for water lilies
His paintings often featured the same subject at different times of the day and eventually inspired a class of devoted artists and imitators. Monet painted constantly from 1874 until his death in 1926 and was noted for the colors he used to portray his paintings and his depictions of nature.
This symbol of French painting is the creator of the emblematic series Nuferi (Nymphéas), the water lily being Monet’s favorite. He loved her so much that he had his gardener dust the water lilies.
He destroyed some of the works
During his lifetime, he is estimated to have produced around 2,500 paintings, drawings, caricatures and pastels that have been attributed to the Impressionist style. The number of his works could have been much higher, if the artist had not destroyed some of his works. About this aspect, his friend and former French Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau, stated that “Monet attacked his canvases when he was angry, anger born of a dissatisfaction with his work. Monet destroyed canvases in search of perfection.
Monet’s paintings are currently estimated between 55,000 – 81,400,000 euros, and the caricatures between 19,000 – 440,000 euros.
Claude Monet attempted suicide in 1868 by jumping off a bridge into the Seine River. Monet was under the pressure of lack of money, at the time he had not met the celebrity and, being married with two children, he was not able to earn well enough to support his family. Fortunately, Monet survived the suicide attempt, but he lived in the shadow of problems related to depression for the rest of his life.
One of his great artistic achievements is the fact that he gave the name to a current in painting without knowing it. His painting titled “Impression, Sunrise”, which he made in 1873, was the inspiration for the name of the Impressionist art movement.
He founded an art association
In 1874, Claude Monet together with Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Édouard Manet and Paul Cézanne founded the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, attracting to the group other painters whose works had been rejected by the Parisian artistic society . Shortly after the establishment of this association, the artists manage to organize a painting exhibition that will go down in history as the first Impressionist exhibition. Although this first exhibition did not have a positive effect, receiving negative impressions and even ironies from some art critics, the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers did not capitulate to the small or big malice regarding the exhibited art and continued its activity.
That year, the group organized an exhibition that went down in history as the first Impressionist exhibition. The exhibited works received numerous criticisms, and one of them used the term “impression” to cast a bad light on the exhibited works.
Adopt a family
In 1876, Monet became friends with one of his clients, Ernest Hoschedé, who owned a department store in Paris. France is going through a hard time, and with the collapse of the economy, both Monet and his friend Hoschedé are experiencing great financial problems. The pressing situation pushes the former shop owner to flee to Belgium, leaving behind a wife, Alice, and four children. With all the financial problems he has, Monet shows great responsibility and humanity when he decides to take all the remaining five into his care without Hoschedé’s support. So, Monet, in the house in the village of Vétheuil, ends up living with his wife, their two children and the other five new tenants.
The blows of life continued to fall on the painter, so that his wife, Camille, fell ill with cervical cancer, fell to bed, during which Alice would take care of her, but also of all the children of the house, including two babies. Monet paints his wife on her deathbed. In 1879, Camille dies, and in time Monet and Alice become close, so they begin a relationship, but do not marry until after the death of Alice’s ex-husband.
A flourishing period for Monet
In 1880, Monet manages to have his first solo exhibition, and in 1881 he moves with Alice and all six children to Poissy, after which their final residence will be established in Giverny, 80 kilometers from Paris. Here, Monet’s life knows a flourishing period, something that will also be reflected in the paintings he paints during that period, many of which are inspired by the paradisiacal garden around Monet’s house, a garden that he took great care of and which he he had embellished with plants brought from all over the world and in the middle of which stood out the sumptuous water lilies that Monet painted obsessively for years in more than 200 paintings.
Starting in 1897, Monet’s works become highly sought after and valuable, thus selling at very high prices.
The end of the painter Claude Monet
In 1911, Alice, the artist’s second wife, dies, and three years later he loses one of his sons. In 1920, Monet begins to have problems with his eyes and undergoes cataract surgery. In his last years of life, the artist increasingly struggled with depression. “Life and weakness have finished me. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all I have left to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear,” he wrote to a friend.
Claude Monet dies on December 5, 1926, at the age of 85, in his paradise in Giverny. From 1980, his house became the Claude Monet Foundation.
Among the artist’s most expensive paintings is a painting from the “Meules” series that in 2019 sold for $110,700,000, this record amount being recorded after another of his paintings sold in 2016 for almost 82,000,000 dollars.