Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Claude Monet made one of the first impressionist paintings in 1867:
In 1867 Monet painted one of the first fully impressionistic paintings, namely ‘a hut at Sainte-Adresse’. In those days many painters made their first attempts of painting in an impressionistic style. Monet stayed that summer in Sainte-Adresse and was using extra-ordinary bright colours. In most of these paintings his brushstroke was more smooth, what made them more static and traditional. On this painting however his brushstroke was more vivid, his colours bright and not fully natural (look at the turkoois of the sea). This was 7 years before the first ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874. When you compare it to two paintings he made 25 years later and you could guess this also was a work painted in 1882, when Monet had developed his impressionistic style to a mature level.
Claude Monet only joins 5 of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions:
- Monet showed 5 paintings and 7 pastels at the first ‘impressionist’ exposition 1874
- Monet showed 18+1hc=19 works at the second ‘impressionist’ exposition 1876
- Monet showed 30+1hc=31 works at the third ‘impressionist’ exposition 1877
- Monet showed 29+3hc=32 works at the fourth ‘impressionist’ exposition 1879
- Monet showed 35 works at the seventh ‘impressionist’ exposition 1882
- works at the Salon, 1865-1880, accepted and rejected
- Account of the exhibited works (references, translations, info, discussion, location on Google-maps)
Claude Monet was a key figure within the impressionist art-movement:
Around 1858 Monet meets Boudin (who later on joins the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874) and starts to paint en-plein-air. In 1860 Monet joins the Académie Suisse and meets Pissarro. In 1862 Monet joins Académie Gleyre and starts narrow relationships with Renoir, Sisley and Bazille (see). In the years after they will paint in Fontainebleau. In September 1869 he will paint with Renoir in La Grenouillère. He joins the meetings in Café Guerbois and later in Café La Nouvelle Athènes (see). After Monet moved to Argenteuil at the end of 1871 Renoir, Sisley, Caillebotte and Manet will often come and paint with him. Early 1884 together with Renoir he visits Cézanne.
Monet supports in 1867 and 1869 the initiatives of Bazille for an independent exhibition and 1873/12/27 is one of the co-founders of the ‘Société Anonyme…‘. In 1874 and 1877 he is one of the co-organisers of the 1st and 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition (see). He also partakes in the expositions of 1876, 1879 and 1882, but already in 1879 he had distanced himself from the expositions and in 1880 he exhibited again with the Salon. But after 1880 he also didn’t submit to the Salon also. He had found other possibilities to exhibit (see).
All this make Monet a key figure within the impressionist art-movement. But distancing himself already in 1879 from the ‘impressionist’ expositions and only joining 5 of the 8 expositions, did make him less important than Pissarro, Degas and maybe even than Caillebotte and Rouart (see).
Claude Monet would often finish his paintings in his studio:
Many writers emphasize that painting en-plein-air is a main characteristic of the impressionist painting style. Also stating that the pre-impressionists of the Barbizon-school finished their paintings in their studios (R24,p16; R4,p9; R3,p646). But this vision is at least disputable (see). When people visited him in Vétheuil, Monet liked to create the myth that he ‘never had a studio’ (R22,p162). Guy de Maupassant describes in 1883 how Monet works en-plein-air on 5 or 6 paintings to catch the different light effects of the different times of day (R22,p211). And in 1897 the reporter Maurice Guillemot writes that Monet ‘only works in the open’. Nature is his studio and his actual studio must be called his salon (R22,p318). Later on in 1908 his second wife Alice Hoschedé describes how he works every two hours on another motive in Venice (R23,p149).
But Monet finished many of his paintings in his studio (R22). Early 1892 and 1893 he works on his series of the Rouen Cathedral on the spot opposite of the Cathedral, but he finishes them later and even dates them 1894 (R22III,p527). In 1899, 1900 and 1901 Monet painted in London series of the Charing Cross Bridge, the Waterloo Bridge and the Houses of Parliament (R22III,p650). But many of these paintings he finished later and dated several of them 1902, 1903 and even 1904 (R22,CR1521-1595).
Russel describes beautifully how Monet painted at different places which still can be identified today (R23). He mostly worked from the early morning onwards on several paintings at one time. Every day discovering new things, adding and removing from his paintings (R23,p116). But Russel also writes that Monet finished in 1912 the paintings that he made in Venice in 1908 (R23,p155).
How is it possible that Monet remembered one or more years later in his studio the exact influence of light on his topic? How did he remember the difference in colour he saw on his motive around 9.00 and 10.00 o’clock? I wonder if any art-historian ever examined this? Are there differences in the paintings he did and didn’t rework in his studio?
My conclusion is that when even Monet, being one of the most impressionist painters, often finished his paintings in his studio, painting en-plein-air should not be one of the most characteristics of the impressionist paining style.
Claude Monet painted many series:
Painting in series is a characteristic of the impressionist painting style. Besides Monet, Pissarro and Sisley also painted series. In 1877 Monet started with a serie of the Saint-Lazare station (see; R22,CR438-448). He often painted a subject more than once (from different angles), sometimes spread over several years. Examples are the coast of Étretat and the cliffs of Pourville and Fécamps (see and 1882) and the Seine at Port-Villez. 1890 onwards Monet starts to make series in a more systematic way. In the Summer of 1890 Monet starts with serie of 25 paintings of grain stacks (R22,CR1266-1290). In 1891 he makes a serie of Poplars on the banks of the river Epte (R22,CR1291-1313). Early 1892 en early 1893 he makes 30 paintings of the Rouen Cathedral (R22,CR1317-1329+1345-1361). In 1896 and 97 Monet paints his ‘matinée-series’ (R22,CR1435-1437+1472-1488). In 1899, 90 and 91 he paints in London a serie of 85 paintings of the Waterloo Bridge, the Charing Cross Bridge and the Houses of Parliament (R22III,p650, CR1521-1614). In Giverny Monet will until his death paint series of the Japanese bridge (1895 onwards; see R22,CR1392+1419), the garden and the water-lilies (1897 onwards; R22III,p632). In 1914 he starts painting the ‘Grande décorations de Nymphéas’, who were 1927/05/17 exhibited in the l’Orangerie in Paris (R22I,p400; R5,p240). In his series it becomes clear that Monet also is a painter of mists (see-/-).
Claude Monet merely was a landscapist:
Claude Monet merely was a landscapist. The last 30 years his mean theme were the waterlilies of his own pond in Giverny. Monet painted just a few portraits, still lives, interieurs and city-views. In his (outdoor) figure paintings he lacked to render the individual psychology of the model.
Oscar-Claude Monet, short private chronology:
Oscar-Claude Monet was born 1840/11/14 in Paris. His father Adolphe was a merchant and moved in 1845 with the family to Le Havre. In 1857 his mother died. His aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre (who lived in nearby Saint-Adresse and who was an amateur painter) became important for his education. Around 1866 Monet starts a relationship with Camille Doncieux. In August 1867 their son Jean is born. 1870/06/28 they marry (R5,p64). 1871/01/17 his father dies, while Monet was in exile in London (R22,p88). After a stay in Zaandam, Monet returns in Paris in the Autumn of 1871 and at the end of that year he moves to Argenteuil (R22,p91+93).
1878/03/17 their son Michel is born. August 1878 Monet moves to Vétheuil (R22,p137), the bankrupt collector Ernest Hoschedé, his wife Alice and their 6 children move in. 1879/09/05 his wife Camille dies (R22,p146). Alice Hoschedé and Monet develop a relationship. Ernest most of the time is in Paris. At the end of 1881 the extended family moves to Poissy and in April 1883 to Giverny. 1891/03/19 Ernest dies and 1892/06/07 Alice and Claude marry (R22,p279+287). In 1908 Monet starts to have problems with his sight (R24,p67). 1911/05/19 Alice dies (R22,p392). 1926/12/05 Monet dies in Giverny (R22,p457).
My main source is the Catalogue Raisonné of Wildenstein, icluding his biography ‘Monet, or the triumph of Impressionism’ (1999 = R22). For the general references (=R) see. For the general references to internet pages (=iR) see. For the subscription of the pictures see. For the additional references (=aR) see below:
- www.the-athenaeum.org / Monet (=iR2; >1300 works; my main source of the pictures)
- www.art-monet.com (=iR51; many pictures about Money; with advertisements)
- fondation-monet.com (info on Monet and his estate in Giverny)
- www.intermonet.com (info, paintings, chronology, etc.)