Claude Monet
French Impressionist

1840 - 1926

Self Portrait of Claude Monet

Claude Monet also known as Oscar-Claude Monet or Claude Oscar Monet (November 14, 1840 - December 5, 1926) was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.

Monet was born on November 14, 1840 on the fifth floor of 45 rue Laffitte, in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. He was the second son of Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet, both of them second-generation Parisians. On May 20, 1841, he was baptized in the local parish church, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette as Oscar-Claude. In 1845, his family moved to Le Havre in Normandy. His father wanted him to go into the family grocery store business, but Claude Monet wanted to become an artist. His mother was a singer.

On the first of April 1851, Monet entered the Le Havre secondary school of the arts. He first became known locally for his charcoal caricatures, which he would sell for ten to twenty francs. Monet also undertook his first drawing lessons from Jacques-François Ochard, a former student of Jacques-Louis David. On the beaches of Normandy in about 1856/1857 he met fellow artist Eugène Boudin who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints. Boudin taught Monet "en plein air" (outdoor) techniques for painting.

On 28 January 1857 his mother died. He was 16 years old when he left school, and went to live with his widowed childless aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre.

When Monet traveled to Paris to visit The Louvre, he witnessed painters copying from the old masters. Monet, having brought his paints and other tools with him, would instead go and sit by a window and paint what he saw. Monet was in Paris for several years and met several painters who would become friends and fellow impressionists. One of those friends was Édouard Manet.

In June of 1861 Monet joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria for two years of a seven-year commitment, but upon his contracting typhoid his aunt Marie-Jeanne Lecadre intervened to get him out of the army if he agreed to complete an art course at a university. It is possible that the Dutch painter Johan Barthold Jongkind, whom Monet knew, may have prompted his aunt on this matter. Disillusioned with the traditional art taught at universities, in 1862 Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. Together they shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light en plein air with broken color and rapid brushstrokes, in what later came to be known as Impressionism.

Monet's Camille or The Woman in the Green Dress (La Femme à la Robe Verte), painted in 1866, brought him recognition, and was one of many works featuring his future wife, Camille Doncieux; she was the model for the figures in The Women in the Garden of the following year, as well as for On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt, 1868, pictured here. Shortly thereafter Doncieux became pregnant and bore their first child, Jean. In 1868, due to financial reasons, Monet attempted suicide by throwing himself into the Seine.

After the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (July 19, 1870), Monet took refuge in England in September 1870. While there, he studied the works of John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner, both of whose landscapes would serve to inspire Monet's innovations in the study of color. In the Spring of 1871, Monet's works were refused to be included in the Royal Academy exhibition. In May 1871 he left London to live in Zaandam, where he made 25 paintings (and the police suspected him of revolutionary activities). He also had a first visit to nearby Amsterdam. In October or November 1871 he returned to France. Monet lived from December 1871 to 1878 at Argenteuil, a village on the Seine near Paris, and here he painted some of his best known works. In 1874, he briefly returned to Holland.

In 1872 (or 1873), he painted Impression, Sunrise (Impression: soleil levant) depicting a Le Havre landscape. It hung in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and is now displayed in the Musée Marmottan-Monet, Paris. From the painting's title, art critic Louis Leroy coined the term "Impressionism", which he intended to be derogatory, however the Impressionists appropriated the term for themselves.

Monet and Camille Doncieux had married just before the war (June 28, 1870) [6] and, after their excursion to London and Zaandam, they had moved into a house in Argenteuil near the Seine River in December 1871. She became ill in 1876. They had a second son, Michel, on March 17, 1878, (Jean was born in 1867). This second child weakened her already fading health. In that same year, he moved to the village of Vétheuil. At the age of thirty-two, Madame Monet died on 5 September 1879 of tuberculosis; Monet painted her on her death bed.

After several difficult months following the death of Camille, a grief stricken Monet (resolving never to be mired in poverty again) began in earnest to create some of his best paintings of the 19th century. During the early 1880's Monet painted several groups of landscapes and seascapes in what he considered to be campaigns to document the French countryside. His extensive campaigns evolved into his series' paintings. Camille Monet became ill with tuberculosis in 1876. Pregnant with her second child she gave birth to Michel Monet in March 1878. In 1878 the Monets temporarily moved into the home of Ernest Hoschedé, (1837-1891), a wealthy department store owner and patron of the arts. Both families then shared a house in Vétheuil during the summer. After her husband was bankrupted, and left in 1878 for Belgium, and after the death of Camille in September 1879 and while Monet continued to live in the house in Vétheuil; Alice Hoschedé helped Monet to raise his two sons, Jean and Michel, by taking them to Paris to live alongside her own six children. They were Blanche, Germaine, Suzanne, Marthe, Jean-Pierre, and Jacques. In the spring of 1880 Alice Hoschedé and all the children left Paris and rejoined Monet still living in the house in Vétheuil. In 1881 all of them moved to Poissy which Monet hated. From the doorway of the little train between Vernon and Gasny he discovered Giverny. In April 1883 they moved to Vernon, then to a house in Giverny, Eure, in Upper Normandy, where he planted a large garden where he painted for much of the rest of his life. Following the death of her estranged husband, Alice Hoschedé married Claude Monet in 1892.

At the beginning of May 1883, Monet and his large family rented a house and two acres from a local landowner. The house was situated near the main road between the towns of Vernon and Gasny at Giverny. There was a barn that doubled as a painting studio, orchards and a small garden. The house was close enough to the local schools for the children to attend and the surrounding landscape offered an endless array of suitable motifs for Monet's work. The family worked and built up the gardens and Monet's fortunes began to change for the better as his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel had increasing success in selling his paintings. By November 1890 Monet was prosperous enough to buy the house, the surrounding buildings and the land for his gardens. Within a few years by 1899 Monet built a greenhouse and a second studio, a spacious building, well lit with skylights. Beginning in the 1880s and 1890s, through the end of his life in 1926, Monet worked on "series" paintings, in which a subject was depicted in varying light and weather conditions. His first series exhibited as such was of Haystacks, painted from different points of view and at different times of the day. Fifteen of the paintings were exhibited at the Durand-Ruel in 1891. He later produced several series' of paintings including: Rouen Cathedral, Poplars, the Houses of Parliament, and Mornings on the Seine and the Water Lilies that were painted on his property at Giverny.

Monet was exceptionally fond of painting controlled nature: his own gardens in Giverny, with its water lilies, pond, and bridge. He also painted up and down the banks of the Seine.

Between 1883 and 1908, Monet traveled to the Mediterranean, where he painted landmarks, landscapes, and seascapes, such as Bordighera. He painted an important series of paintings in Venice, Italy, and in London he painted two important series - views of Parliament and views of Charing Cross Bridge. His second wife Alice died in 1911 and his oldest son Jean, who had married Alice's daughter Blanche, Monet's particular favourite, died in 1914. After his wife died, Blanche looked after and cared for him. It was during this time that Monet began to develop the first signs of cataracts.

During World War I, in which his younger son Michel served and his friend and admirer Clemenceau led the French nation, Monet painted a series of Weeping Willow trees as homage to the French fallen soldiers. Cataracts formed on Monet's eyes, for which he underwent two surgeries in 1923. The paintings done while the cataracts affected his vision have a general reddish tone, which is characteristic of the vision of cataract victims. It may also be that after surgery he was able to see certain ultraviolet wavelengths of light that are normally excluded by the lens of the eye, this may have had an effect on the colors he perceived. After his operations he even repainted some of these paintings, with bluer water lilies than before the operation.

Monet died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. Monet had insisted that the occasion be simple; thus about fifty people attended the ceremony.

His famous home and garden with its water lily pond were bequeathed by his heirs to the French Academy of Fine Arts (part of the Institut de France) in 1966. Through the Fondation Claude Monet, the home and gardens were opened for visit in 1980, following refurbishment. In addition to souvenirs of Monet and other objects of his life, the home contains his collection of Japanese woodcut prints. The home is one of the two main attractions of Giverny, which hosts tourists from all over the world.

Impression, Sunrise

Claude Monet painted this picture of the sun seen through mist at the harbor of Le Havre when he was staying there in the spring of 1872. A sketch quickly executed to catch the atmospheric moment, it was catalogued as Impression: soleil levant when exhibited in 1874 in the first exhibition of the group (as yet described simply as the Société Anonyme des Artistes-Peintres).

The word `Impression' was not so unusual that it had never before been applied to works of art but the scoffing article by Louis Leroy in Le Charivari which coined the word Impressionnist as a general description of the exhibitors added a new term to the critical vocabulary that was to become historic. It was first adopted by the artists themselves for their third group exhibition in 1877, though some disliked the label. It was dropped from two of the subsequent exhibitions as a result of disagreements but otherwise defied suppression.

Claude Monet was a French painter whose 1872 painting, "Impression Sunrise" (which depicted sunlight dancing and shimmering on water), gave the name to the entire Impressionist movement. Monet felt that nature knows no black or white and nature knows no line. These beliefs resulted in this artist creating beautifully colorful and energetic pieces of work. The leading member of the Impressionists, Claude Monet captured the spontaneity of nature's wonderful light.

A Corner of the Apartment

From 1871, when he returned from England, until 1878, Monet lived in the commune of Argenteuil near Paris. During this period he often featured his wife Camille in his paintings, with their eldest son Jean, born in 1867. He is pictured here, inside the second house that Monet lived in in Argenteuil, with a figure, probably Camille, in shadow in the background.

The foreground here consists of a symmetrical décor: hangings with coloured motifs, green plants, and decorative vases, seen in other paintings by Monet. This composition gives the impression of a curtain opening on to a stage. The viewer's eye is drawn towards the back of the room, towards the illuminated area near the window. In the very centre of the picture, the herringbone pattern of the parquet reinforces the symmetry of the overall view, whilst emphasising the perspective. Then, one after another, one can make out Jean standing slightly to the right, the lamp and the table in the centre, and Camille sitting on the left.

The child's silhouette is reflected on the parquet floor, lit by the daylight from the window. In this interior, "there is a serious attempt to introduce air and light", as the art critic Gustave Geffroy pointed out in 1894.

This silent, intimate scene, an image of everyday family life in Argenteuil, is recreated in a blue-tinted space. This range of colour evokes an atmosphere of tranquillity and poetry, reminiscent of the childhood world of the author Marcel Proust, as he would later describe it in In Search of Lost Time (1913).

A Corner of the Studio

Claude Monet painted Corner of the Studio in 1861. In 1859 Monet moved to Paris to study painting. Rejecting the rigidity of conventional training, he enrolled in the Academie Suisse, a studio without a set curriculum where students could set their own schedules and paint from life models as well as exchange ideas.

While Monet painted outdoors at every opportunity, he also experimented with more traditional subjects, such as this still life that features objects commonly found in a studio.

Jeanne Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden

The sunlight which floods the paintings of the Impressionists - who did most of their painting out of doors, directly from nature - here plays the central role. Monet spent his childhood in Le Havre, which he periodically visited. The Le Coteaux estate at Sainte-Adresse near Le Havre belonged to Monet's cousin, Paul-Eugene Lecadre. Settling here in the summer of 1867, the artist painted several landscapes in the garden of the estate, of which "Woman in the Garden" is of central importance.

Dressed in the fashion of the day, the figure of a lady was posed by Lecadre's wife. This lonely silhouette introduces an elegaic, sorrowful note into the painting whilst the bright, light area of the dress plays in important role in the balancing the composition and in demonstrating the interrelationship of light and color.

La Grenouillere

In 1869, when this picture was painted, Monet and Renoir were living near one another at Saint-Michel, just west of Paris. They often visited "La Grenouillère," a swimming spot with a boat rental and a café on the Seine. On September 25, Monet wrote to Frédéric Bazille: "I do have a dream, a painting, the baths of 'La Grenouillère' for which I've done a few bad rough sketches, but it is a dream. Renoir, who has just spent two months here, also wants to do this painting." There are six known paintings of the subject, three by each artist. This example is nearly identical in composition to the one by Renoir in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm; they were undoubtedly painted side by side.

La Japonaise Camille Monet in Japanese Costume

Monet exhibited this work at the second group show of the Impressionist painters in 1876, where it attracted much attention. Large-scale figure paintings had traditionally been considered the most significant challenge for an artist. Using this format, Monet created a virtuoso display of brilliant color that is also a witty comment on the current Paris fad for all things Japanese. The woman shown wrapped in a splendid kimono and surrounded by fans is Monet's wife, Camille, wearing a blond wig to emphasize her Western identity.

Camille Doncieux (1847 – 5 September 1879) was the first wife of Claude Monet.

She modelled for her husband on several occasions, including for the painting Camille, "The Woman in the Green Dress".

They were married in 1870. She became ill in 1875. They had two sons; Jean was born in 1867, Michel was born in 1878. This second child weakened her already fading health.

She died of tuberculosis on 5 September, 1879; Monet painted her on her death bed.

Camille Monet in the Garden: 1873

Camille Monet in the Garden. 1873

Camille At The Window

Woman in a Green Dress

Woman in a Green Dress (Detail)

Monet's 1866 Camille or The Woman in the Green Dress (La Femme à la Robe Verte), which brought him recognition, was one of many works featuring his future wife, Camille Doncieux. In 1870, Monet and Doncieux married and in 1873 moved into a house in Argenteuil near the Seine River. Shortly thereafter Doncieux became pregnant and bore their first child, Jean. They had another son, Michel, on March 17, 1878. Madame Monet died of tuberculosis in 1879.

Camille Monet on Her Death Bed

Claude Monet painted this portrait after his first wife Camille's death on September 5, 1879. He mentioned later that when he looked at her, instead of seeing his dead wife and former model, he saw interesting colors he would like to paint. This may have made him regretful and moody for the last minutes he stood there. Perhaps his love of painting inspired him to do this portrait. Monet included lots of blue and gray in this painting, as well as yellow/orange and red. Some people might feel that Monet made the portrait too light by including those hues. The light seems to be coming from the right as it shines upon Camille's face. Although you can determine that Camille wears a shroud and can definitely make out her face, the rest of the painting is less clearly described. Are those Camille's arms? Is she dressed in black? Does she have flowers? Is her mouth open? Or closed? Many have puzzled on these questions. I advise you to do the same if you have any spare time. Monet was very sad at Camille's death. She was his favorite model and had allowed him to produce the paintings below. She also appears in other paintings, whether as the subject or a background feature. Usually, Monet's son, Jean is with her. Monet also had a son named Michel, but he usually does not appear with Camille.

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe

Bazille and Camille (study for Déjeuner sur l’herbe), is a painted study for the final painting. Camille has been very nearly transposed from the chalk drawing into this oil but there does seem to be an interaction between the two figures. Notice how the dappled, light-green leaves in the upper right-hand corner interact with the dark, lacy branches in the bottom left. The overall effect of the painting is one of freshness and light, despite the large areas of very dark shading.

Déjeuner sur l'herbe (1865)

This study is the best surviving example of Monet's gigantic project, his Déjeuner sur l'herbe (1865). Nor were these two figure paintings his only large-scale works: in fact, for two years, from 1865-1867, nearly all of the young artist's energies were concentrated on large figure paintings such as this one. In her essay, "Why Monet Gave Up Figure Painting", Anne M. Wagner attempts to answer the question of why Monet abandoned painting people, observing that at the end of this period his figure paintings "had become in every sense secondary to Monet's landscape work"

London: Houses of Parliament at Sunset

Monet first depicted the Houses of Parliament when he visited London in 1870-71 to escape the Franco-Prussian War. His 'The Thames below Westminster', painted at that time, also hangs in Room 43. Some thirty years later, when he revisited the city in 1900 and 1901, Monet returned to the motif. He was captivated by the Gothic spires of Westminster rising beside the river and began some 19 depictions of the site in changing light and weather conditions. This fiery depiction of Parliament at sunset, one of the most vibrant and freely painted in the series, is signed and dated 1902, indicating that Monet completed it back in his studio in France.

A Family Farm in Normandy

A Winmdmill Near Zaandam

Claude Monet paid three visits to the Netherlands. During the first of these visits he spent four months in Zaandam with his wife and child. The painter thought it 'all very amusing. There were houses in every color, mills by the hundred and delightful boats, exceptionally friendly Hollanders who almost all speak French.' He wrote to his friend Camille Pissarro that there was enough to paint for an entire lifetime. Or at any rate for an entire summer, as no less than 24 canvases survive from his time in Zaandam.

Another Windmill at Zaadam

A Woman Reading: 1872 (Springtime)

In the 1870s, Argenteuil, a suburb of Paris on the Seine River, northwest of the city, was a gathering point for a number of Impressionist artists. In this fully developed Impressionist work, Monet portrays his first wife, Camille, seated on the lawn beneath lilac bushes in the garden of the Maison Aubry, their first residence in the Paris suburb. Monet moved to Argenteuil in December 1871. Many of the motifs that he and the other Impressionists favored could be found in this small town, conveniently connected by rail to nearby Paris. While in Argenteuil, Monet set up a comfortable residence for himself, his wife, and their son Jean, enjoying a period of stability that resulted in great productivity over the next seven years. During the early 1870s, Monet frequently painted views of his backyard garden that included Camille as his model. Here, her voluminous pink dress appears to float over the grass. The canvas glows with dappled sunlight, suggested by the artist's quick, unblended dabs of color. Camille's serene absorption in her book and the delicacy of her form recall 18th-century representations of women reading. "Springtime" is a prime example of Monet's commitment to painting outdoors and was included in the Second Impressionist Exhibition in 1876.

Apple Trees In Blossom

Argenteuil: 1872

At Argenteuil, Claude MONET found again some of his favorite models : boats.

Argenteuil: 1875

Beach at Honfleux

Boating On The River Epte: 1887

Boulevard des Capucines: 1873

There are two paintings of this view from the studio of the photographer, Nadar. This one shows that Monet used the Japanese mobile viewpoint to embody the fragmentary, yet dynamic modern experiences of space as the eye plunges into the deep channel of the crowded street, and seeks to disentangle the clues to the complex visual experiences given by a myriad detached brushstrokes. Fragmentation is also created by the double perspective thrust formed by the apartment blocks on the left and by the line of wintry trees and snow-topped cabs in the middle of the composition. This unusual off-centre perspective could owe something to another Hiroshige print in Monet’s collection,Sudden shower over Ohashi Bridge and Atake, where the bridge, seen from above, cuts across the river in strong counterpoint to the tree-covered distant shore. The cool tone given by the rain drenching the pedestrians is similar to the icy atmosphere in the Boulevard des Capucines. Monet has also isolated his figures on the snow-covered pavements, but his brushstrokes fuse them into groups, just as a crowd melds the movements of many individuals.

Boulevard Des Capucines

Between April 15 and May 15, 1874, at 35 Boulevard des Capucines in Paris, a group of artists including Monet, Pissaro, Renoir, Cezanne, and Degas, opened the premier exhibition of the Societe Anonyme des Artistes. As remarkable as it may seem today, many of the most important works of this group had been judged and rejected by the juries and state government bodies charged with promoting the art of the time, the Salon.

These artists were motivated by their determination to break ranks with the standard-bearers of more traditional painting and to break free of the marketing restrictions inherent in the Salon and jury systems. It was only with the death of Pissarro in 1903 that these artists' movement became recognized as the primary nineteenth century artistic revolution, and, over time, lead to what we now view as Modern Art.

Capucines Boulevard provides a similar service to artists, giving them a professional outlet outside of the confines of juried art shows and galleries. It also functions as an intimate collection of galleries where anyone searching for artwork can either participate in a live time auction or purchase art at a set price all from the privacy of their own home.

Break Up of Ice - Lavacourt

Cliffs Near Dieppe

Haystack Snow Effect: 1891

Haystacks at Giverny in The Evening Sun: 1888

Enormous stacks of harvested wheat, rising fifteen to twenty feet in height, stood just outside Claude Monet’s farmhouse door at Giverny, his home from 1883 until his death. Monet painted the stacks in 1890 and 1891, both in the field, where he worked at several easels simultaneously, and in the studio, where he refined his paintings. Only by executing multiple views of the same subject, Monet found, could he truly render, as he put it, "what I experience"—how he perceived and responded to these stacks of grain, defined by light and air as time passed and weather changed. Constructed by man but created by nature, the stacks were for Monet a resonant symbol of sustenance and survival. While the compositions seem simple, Monet modulated his palette and brushwork to each temporal situation he confronted. In late summer views, such as this, as well as in most of the autumn views, the pointed tops of the stacks often seem to burst through the horizon into the sky. On the other hand, in the majority of winter views, the long-lasting stacks seem nestled into hill and field, as if hibernating from the cold of the season.

In May 1891, the artist hung fifteen of the wheat-stack compositions next to one another in a small room in his dealer’s Paris gallery, thus firmly establishing his famous method of working in series. The Art Institute boasts the largest group of Monet’s Stacks of Wheat in the world; five of the six in the collection numbered among the original canvases Monet placed on view in 1891.

Jar of Peaches

Pheasants and Plovers

Pond at Montgeron

Claude Monet is represented in the Hermitage by works of different periods. Two large canvases, one of which is The Pond at Montgeron, were created to decorate the house of Ernest Hoschede, patron and friend of the Impressionists, when the Impressionist style was at its height. Rejecting the rules of classical landscapes, the artist concentrates on reflecting changes in light and colour, producing an astonishingly fresh momentary impression.

Poplars: 1891

It has been a funny business !
I had to buy the poplars to finish painting them."

Claude Monet

Spring Flowers

This early work reveal's Monet's fascination with capturing the transitory effects that became the primary focus of his later innovations. Painted with almost scientific accuracy, this still life has a freshness and immediacy derived partly from its composition. Isolated against a dark background, the fully mature peonies, potted hydrangeas, and basketed lilacs spill downward and outward from the geraniums at the rear. At the same time, Monet's energetic brushwork conveys the sparkling play of light on leaves and petals.

Still Life of Apples and Grapes

Claude Monet took up still-life painting for a time around 1880. This traditional genre may seem an unlikely arena in which to stage a career shift, but Monet hoped to expand his market during a period of economic recession. He renewed his attempts to gain access to the Salon and tried to form associations with dealers other than Paul Durand-Ruel. In addition to being easier to sell than landscapes, still lifes allowed the artist to continue his experimentation with the textures and colors of nature during periods when bad weather prohibited him from painting outdoors.

Here, Monet depicted an assortment of two different kinds of apples, together with green and red grapes, and introduced an element of animation, even suspense. This still life is anything but still: the smaller apples at the lower right seem ready to roll off the steeply angled table, and the folds of the cloth appear to ripple like waves. Yet the artist’s control over the objects is evident, giving the composition a sense of stability and vitality. Not only did Monet adopt a magisterial view from above, but he also anchored the fruits and basket with palpable, grayish-green shadows. Exploring the possibilities of materials at hand—one of the central challenges of still-life painting—Monet found several ways to use the same dabs of white pigment: on the grapes, they represent translucent fragility; on the large apples, matte solidity; and on the little apples, glossy sheen.

Still life never became central to Monet’s repertory, but it is tempting to look from this brief experiment to those of his colleagues—most notably Paul Cézanne, who would bring the genre to new heights of complexity and beauty.

Still Life with Melon

This painting dates from 1872, the same year as the famous Impression, soleil levant (Musée Marmottan, Paris). Although the compositional scheme may be based on Fantin-Latour’s Table with flowers and fruit (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), which adopted a classical approach to this genre, this work adds an innovative handling to the theme. This conception was paralleled at the same time in the work of Édouard Manet, who deliberately attempted to integrate the subjective content of his personal vision into his paintings of inanimate objects.

An ordered sequence of spherical forms provides a superb structure: the summer fruits create a subtle chromatic dialogue with the Chinese porcelain that is carefully positioned in the space, allowing the whole to be seen as a coherent artistic discourse. The open-air aesthetic that the Impressionists held so dear fills the canvas with light and lends it a unique originality. However, it is through his use of the colour that Monet best manages to express a situation that is essentially meant to be understood using one’s senses.

The Galettes

The Tea Set

Vase of Flowers

Wild Poppies Near Argenteuil

Claude MONET arrived in Argenteuil on January 2nd 1872. In those days Argenteuil was a small town of 8000 inhabitants surrounded by fields

. "Poppies at Argenteuil" was exhibited with "Impression, sunrise" at the 1874 exhibition of the photographer Nadar.

It is one of Claude MONET's most famous paintings, perhaps because Camille seems to swim in flowers.

Field of Poppies, Giverny: 1885

"I will be obliged to ask you for quite a lot of money, as I am on the verge of either buying the house where I live or leaving Giverny which would bother me a lot, as I am sure I will never find a similar set up nor so beautiful a landscape."

Claude Monet to Durand-Ruel, 1890

Floating Ice Near Vetheuil

Garden of Flowers at Sainte Adresse

General View of Rouen From St. Catherine's Bank

Girls in a Boat: 1887

Haystack At Giverny: 1886

Haystacks At Chailly: 1865

La Porte D'Amount Etretat

Landscape With Thunderstorm


On the Beach at Trouville

Painted in the open air on the beach at Trouville in Normandy, this painting has sand on its surface, blown on to the wet canvas as Monet worked. Camille, Monet's first wife, is believed to be the woman on the left. Her companion is thought to be the wife of Monet's fellow painter Eugène Boudin.

Monet married Camille Doncieux, his mistress since about 1865, in June 1870. They had previously suffered through Monet's conflict with his father, a wholesale grocer, who refused help when Camille became pregnant in 1867. The summer of this seaside idyll was the summer the Franco-Prussian War began. In the autumn of 1870, Monet, with Camille and their son Jean, fled to London to evade conscription.

Petit Pantheon Theatral: 1860

Poppy Field In A Hollow Near Giverny: 1885

"My heart is to Giverny for ever and ever."

Claude Monet

Portrait of Madame Gaudibert

Promenade Near Argenteuil

In this painting Monet ignores the growing industrialisation that is spreading to Argenteuil to devote himself to the bucolic charm of a walk in the country.

Purple Poppies

I'm busy gardening, "it will give me flowers to paint on rainy days."

Claude Monet

Red Mullet

Regatta at Argenteuil

Boating became fashionable from 1830 in the Ile de France region. Racing boats competed at Argenteuil from 1850 because the Seine widened out into a basin which provided the broadest stretch of water in the Paris region. Linked to Paris by train, Argenteuil attracted many competitors and on Sundays crowds of people came to stroll by the river and watch the races. Claude Monet lived and worked at Argenteuil from December 1871 to 1878 and half of the 170 canvases he painted during this period show the banks of the Seine.

Two years before the Impressionist movement officially came into existence, Monet painted this scene which has all its features, in particular the famous fragmented brushstroke. Regattas at Argenteuil was painted in natural light, because tin tubes and portable easels allowed artists to leave their studios and paint outside. Monet sought to capture the fluidity of air and water and the way they changed with the light. He explained what he was trying to do: "I want to do something intangible. It's appalling, this light that drifts off and takes the colour with it".

Rough Sea at Etretat

For many years, the tall cliffs and rugged coastline of Normandy fascinated and attracted many artists and in January 1883 Monet planned a painting trip to the port city, Le Havre.

In letters to friends, he wrote of the stormy weather he experienced that winter and he was disappointed that it forced him to abandon Le Havre for Etretat. This was a popular fishing village, and an area he felt too often painted by other artists for him to create 'new' works. It is perhaps testament to Monet's genius that the Etretat paintings are certainly not hackneyed or stale, as his unique perception and vigorous style translated into a fresh interpretation of the area.

In this instance, the monumental cliffs are battered by the crashing waves which are dwarfing two figures in the foreground. They are blurred by the sea spray, and by appearing as little more than silhouettes make it easy for the viewer to identify with them and feel part of the scene.

Rue De La Bavolle Honfleur: 1864

Dating from the beginning of Monet's career, this view of a street in the old port of Honfleur is a relatively traditional subject painted with great simplicity and directness. Monet's palette of pure, contrasting colors is a radical departure from the traditional practice of building up an overall tonality through delicate gradations of color.

Sailing at Argenteuil

Sailing at Sainte Adresse

Monet spent the summer of 1867 at Sainte-Adresse, a small town near Le Havre on the Normandy coast. On June 25 he wrote to his colleague Bazille that he was working on about twenty pictures. One of them was probably "Regatta at Sainte-Adresse": "Among the seascapes, I am doing the regattas of Le Havre with many figures on the beach and the outer harbor covered with small sails." This composition, though less ambitious than that of "Garden at Sainte-Adresse" (67.241), also painted in 1867, reflects in its articulation of sea, sky, and shadow, Monet's growing fascination with color and light.

Self Portrait In His Atelier

Snow Effect With Setting Sun

Spring - 1875

Springtime at Giverny

Still Life With Bottles

Sun Setting Over The Seine At Lavacourt Winter Effect


In December 1888 Van Gogh wrote: "Gauguin was telling me the other day that he had seen a picture by Claude Monet of sunflowers in a large Japanese vase, very fine, but—he likes mine better. I don't agree." Gauguin must have seen Monet's "Sunflowers" in the 1882 Impressionist exhibition or, like Van Gogh, at Durand-Ruel's gallery in Paris in early 1886. That spring it was acquired for an exhibition at the National Academy of Design, New York, by A. J. Kingman, and has remained in American collections ever since: with Catholina Lambert, from 1892, and the Havemeyers, from 1899 to 1929.

"Sunflowers" appear in four views Monet painted in 1881 at Vétheuil of the steps to his garden, from which this bouquet was probably cut.


The Beach At Sainte Adresse

The summer of 1867 was a crucial period for Claude Monet. The poor, struggling artist stayed with his aunt at Sainte-Adresse, a well-to-do suburb of the port city of Le Havre near his father's home. The paintings Monet produced that summer, few of which survive, reveal the beginnings of the youthful artist's development of the revolutionary style that would come to be known as Impressionism. In his quest to capture the effects of shifts in weather and light, Monet painted The Beach at Sainte-Adresse out-of-doors on an overcast day. He devoted the majority of the composition to sea, sky, and beach. These he depicted with broad sheets of color, animated by short brush strokes that articulate gentle, azure waves; soft, white clouds; and pebbled, ivory sand. While fishermen go about their chores, a tiny couple relaxes at the water's edge. Tourism, which had largely "created" Sainte-Adresse, would become a popular theme for Monet and many other Impressionists

. Monet did not exhibit this work publicly for almost ten years after he completed it. Because of its small, informal composition, seemingly unfinished character, and straightforward depiction of everyday life, this painting and others like it were frequently rejected from the state-sponsored Salon exhibitions. To combat the official control of artistic standards and sales, Monet banded together with a diverse group of like-minded, avant-garde artists to mount the first of what would be eight independent exhibitions over the years 1874 to 1886. He included The Beach at Sainte-Adresse in the second of these unprecedented Impressionist group shows, in 1876.

The Boats Regatta At Argenteuil

Claude Monet painted Regatta at Argenteuil in 1872. After a brief stay in Paris, Monet moved his family out of the city to Argenteuil. A quiet and attractive town on the right bank of the Seine and on a regular railway stop, it was a popular retreat for weekend visitors. During his first summer in this new location, Monet occupied himself with a familiar subject: boats in full sail under the summer sun.

The Church At Vetheuil: 1880

In this view of Vétheuil, painted from the opposite side of the Seine during the summer of 1880, the flicker of individual brushstrokes reflects Monet's concern with recording sensations of color and light as accurately as possible. Ironically, this resulted in paintings with an increasingly abstract character. Indeed, the imagery nearly dissolves in the myriad touches of paint.

Inscriptions: Signed and dated (lower right): Claude Monet 1880, Provenance

The Church of Vernon In The Mist: 1893

The Gare Saint Lazare: 1877

After his return to France from London, Monet lived from 1871-78 at Argenteuil, on the Seine near Paris. In January 1877 he rented a small flat and a studio near the Gare St-Lazare, and in the fourth Impressionist exhibition which opened in April of that year, he exhibited seven canvases of the railway station.

This painting is one of four surviving canvases representing the interior of the station. Trains and railways had been depicted in earlier Impressionist works (and by Turner in his 'Rain, Steam and Speed'), but were not generally regarded as aesthetically palatable subjects.

Monet's exceptional views of the Gare St-Lazare resemble interior landscapes, with smoke from the engines creating the same effect as clouds in the sky. Swift brushstrokes indicate the gleaming engines to the right and the crowd of passengers on the platform.

The Gare Saint Lazare
Arrival of a Train

Monet eventually found that by painting subjects repeatedly--at different times of the day, during different seasons, and under varying light conditions--he could best practice the Impressionist emphasis on light and atmosphere. Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare is one of seven paintings Monet made of the famous Paris train station that served the suburbs along the Seine valley. A recently completed example of modern iron-frame-and-glass architecture, the station was an enormous vault filled with steam and bustling with movement.

Using rapid, often sketchlike, brush strokes, Monet captured the light as it poured through the glass roof and mixed with the whirling clouds of steam. Despite its bold style, the painting is a significant example of the Impressionist focus on city life, as seen in the architectural environment and the train itself. Later in his career, Monet would largely abandon urban views in favor of depicting the undisturbed world of nature.

The Headland of the Heve at Low Tide

In 1864, when he was 23 years old, and still an art-student, Monet began painting The Pointe de La Hève at low tide. It was exhibited in the 1865 Paris Salon - the only place where an artist could make a reputation.

Monet needed to have a success so he painted a relatively conventional work. The subject-matter was traditional - a fisherman, peasants gathering seaweed. Not a hint of the modern world such as the steam ships that constantly passed this headland. For the beach, land and sky, Monet used darker tones - browns, greys, dull greens, blues and ochres. They contrast with the paler tones of the ocean, surf and clouds to create a powerful impression of the light that signals an impending storm.

The paint is quite abstract — For example the long ripples on the shore are painted with the same definition as the pebbly beach and distant forms are as sharp as close ones. This has the effect of flattening depth into a surface pattern. These effects may well have been influenced by similar qualities in Japanese prints.

The Hotel Des Roches Noires At Trouville

Here Monet literally flies his flag in the face of the academics of the Paris Salon. Imagine the indignation occasioned by the brazenly unfinished banner that dominates the initial impression of this painting. Today, with hindsight we can appreciate the original handling used by Monet to impart the motion and vibrancy of the flag. It can almost be heard snapping in the wet ocean breeze. Compositionally, the flag counterbalances the strong perspective lines in the right and bottom portions of the canvas. These lines, in the receding gaslights and railing on the left, the pathway in the center, and the looming hotel on the right, converge to a remarkably close vanishing point. Only the white canopy halts the recession in time to keep the viewer from tumbling into a perspectival abyss. Monet intensifies the effect by cropping the hotel on the right and by the sharp angle of sun and shadow. Coming from high over the right shoulder, the strong sunlight creates a shadow in the bottom right corner of the canvas that gives the viewer an uncanny sense that the building continues beyond the right periphery of his vision. Suddenly, the viewer is jerked into the painting, which is of course what Monet intended by giving the picture such a powerful perspective. You find yourself joining the other hotel patrons in their stroll along the waterfront, preparing to doff your hat in cheerful greeting. And you join willingly, because the artist has succeeded in constructing a scene of warmth and conviviality that is extremely inviting. The delicacy of Monet's composition can be comprehended by the mental removal of the figures from the scene. Immediately, the entire feeling of warmth is lost and the viewer's participation in the painting is revoked. Monet has achieved a masterful synthesis of subject matter and composition to evoke the sensation of a light-hearted stroll along the French coast.

The Ice Floes

The Break-up of the Ice was completed by Claude Monet in 1880. The winter of 1879 was unusually harsh, and even Monet found working outdoors nearly unbearable. In early December, a sudden rise is temperature caused the ice to crack.

Alice Hoschedé, now living with her children in Monet's house, described the resulting thaw as terrifying, as half the melted snow slid down from the hills onto the village. Monet drew inspiration from the experience, painting scene after scene as the ice floes broke on the river.

The Jetty At Le Havre Bad Weather: 1870

The Luncheon

Claude Monet painted The Luncheon, Monet's Garden at Argenteuil in 1873. The Luncheon presents the comfortable informality of Monet's life in Argenteuil during the months of high summer. With the meal concluded, Camille takes a visitor on a stroll through the garden while Jean plays with his blocks in the shadow cast by the table.

Monet re-creates the most pleasant sensations of a sunny afternoon -- the vivid flowers, the cool patches of shade, and the breezy fabrics of summer gowns -- with lightly applied dabs of color.

The Luncheon: 1868

The Marina At Argenteuil

The Railway Bridge At Argenteuil

The Red Boats Argenteuil

Claude MONET was fascinated by the bright light of summer mornings.

He shared it with the spectator through this bright red, blue and green composition.

The Riverbank at Gennevilliers

The Road To Chailly

He began painting landscapes very early (1864) as the Norman painter Eugène Boudin encouraged him to do.

The Sea at Fecamp: 1881

" I am in a beautifully wild landscape, a pile of terrible rocks and an unbelievably colorfoul sea."

Claude Monet

The Seine at Argenteuil

The Seine at Argenteuil: 1872

The Seine at Bougival

The Seine at Bougival in the Evening

The Seine at Lavacourt

The Seine at Port Villez: 1883

The Seine at Rouen: 1872

The Seine Below Rouen: 1872

The Seine Estuary at Honfluer

The Shoot

The Steps at Vetheuil

The Stream of Robec Rouen

The Thames and The Houses of Parliament

The Tuileries

A Study of the Tuilieries

The Tuileries

Claude Monet painted The Tuileries in 1876. Monet painted this vista of the formal garden in the center of Paris from a position high in a building on the rue de Rivoli. Victor Chocquet, an early advocate of Impressionism, had a residence there. In a vast panorama, stretching from the manicured grounds of the public park out to the boundaries of the city, Monet followed the subtle changes of light, from the glowing sun in the foreground to the cool mist in the distance.

The Turkeys

Claude Monet painted Turkeys in 1876. Monet painted a flock of turkeys on the lawn of his patron Hoschede's estate in Montgeron. Planned as a decorative panel, Turkeys marked the rare introduction of animals into Monet's natural setting.

When the work was shown in the third Impressionist exhibition, the critical response was mixed. One critic urged the viewer to think of how well it would look in a lavishly furnished dining room, while others disparaged Monet's choice of subject as ridiculous.

The Valley of Falaise

A History of the 90th Division in World War II

The Valley of Death-The Falaise Gap

The lightning moves which wrested Mayenne and Le Mans from the enemy presaged a new type of warfare on the European continent. This was a war of movement, one which kept the Germans eternally on their heels, reeling under the impact of blows which they were unable to counter. No front lines existed in France, only pockets of resistance of variable strength. In the Cotentin peninsula gains had been measured in terms of yards and hedgerows and frightful casualties. But now the 90th Division laced its Seven League Boots and strode over the river and over the hills.

On August 10th the 90th Division was instructed to proceed northward, follow the 2nd French Armored Division, and seize a line from Carrouges to Sees, approximately sixty miles away, and due west of Paris. The Division advanced by bounds, meeting nothing of consequence in the way of resistance. Alencon was taken on the 12th and positions across the Sarthe river consolidated on the 13th.

Shortly thereafter the 90th was ordered to relieve the 5th Armored Division located northeast, and this relief was effected by the 15th, the eve of the Battle of the Falaise Gap. From the time of the landings at Normandy the 90th had passed 4,500 prisoners of war through its cages. That figure was destined to rise sharply.

The German Seventh Army, consisting of many of the elite troops of the enemy, was moving east, threatened by the British and Canadians on the North, and by the Americans in the south. Its lines had been broken, its communications shattered. One thing only could save this military organization which had once been supreme on the battlefields of Europe. One thing could save the Seventh Army . . . escape . . . move rapidly to defensible line, reorganize, fight back. But now, one thing able all . . . escape!

The line of retreat lay along the road running southeast from the city of Falaise through Chambois, 25 kilometers away. The road ran through a valley, on both side of which high ground provided perfect observation on every action and move which the enemy might make.

Until the night of August 15th there was little indication that anything big was afoot, and the first hint was an artillery barrage at the 90th's troops in the vicinity of Le Bourg St. Leonard. The next morning reports of extensive enemy activity in the Foret de Gouggern came streaming in. Artillery liaison pilots reported great convoys of enemy vehicles and troops swarming throughout the valley. Forward observers rubbed their eyes incredulously as they saw targets they had never dreamed could exist.

At noon on the 16th the enemy attacked in force the 90th's road block at Le Bourg St. Leonard in a desperate effort to clear the shoulders of their escape rout. All day the battle raged, with the town changing hands several times. Tanks battled furiously throughout the encounter, tank destroyers waded into the fight with guns blazing, the doughboys stood fast, containing the frantic Seventh Army within its narrow bottle neck. And the Artillery blasted away with everything it had.

That night the 90th was released from the XV Corps and passed to the control of a Provisional Corps whose function it was to reduce the Falaise pocket. The mission of the 90th was to attack north, seize the village of Ommeel and the high ground northeast of Chambois. Since the main road by which the Seventh Army sought escape ran directly through Chambois,t he control of that town was vital to the Americans as well as to the enemy.

The following day the Division passed to the control of V Corps, and returned once more to the First Army. And still the battle raged on. Never in history had artillery enjoyed such a field day. Observers, enjoying for the first time the luxury of perfect observation on numberless targets, radioed fire missions to their heart's content. Desperately the trapped Germans beat themselves against the side of the wall that engulfed them, hopeless they plunged into the immobile lines that hemmed them in. And all the while the artillery loaded and fired, loaded and fired, pausing only to allow the tubes to cool.

In the meantime, the infantry was by no means idle. Against do or die resistance the doughboys advanced towards Chambois, closing the bottleneck, strangling the escape route with an iron noose. One after another the objectives fell . . . Hill 137, Hill 129, Ste. Eurgenie, Bon Menil, Fough; the road leading out of Chambois was cut, and the trap was sealed.

Prisoners poured into the 90th's cages. Equipment, guns, vehicles beyond number littered the floor of the Valley. The once mighty cream of the German armies found itself being cut to bloody ribbons with no chance for escape. And still the artillery, eleven battalions, lashed the valley with high explosives, time and white phosphorous fire. Mercilessly the raked the valley, inflicting casualties, disrupting counterattacks, pouring a hail of steel into the milling remnants of the invincible conquerors of Europe.

An aerial observer, annoyed by the necessary time lapse between his reporting a target and the actual firing of the mission, shouted excitedly into his radio, "Stop computin', and start shooting."

And into the storm the unarmed Medics of the 315th Medical Battalion performed heroically under fire, evacuating the enemy wounded as well as the American casualties. A truce was called in order that the wounded might be attended and removed from the field of battle. The 315th, in spite of sniper fire (in violation of the terms of the truce), carried out its mission with unsung gallantry.

The 712th Tank Battalion and the 773rd Tank Destroyed Battalion also added their voices to the deafening salvoes that spread death in the valley. And still it continued, never pausing until the white flags appeared, timidly at first, then more and more openly. On the 20th of August the dramatic episode of the Falaise Gap moved rapidly toward its inevitable climax.

The realization had come home to the trapped enemy that the Seventh Army was a beaten force, incapable of any offensive or defensive action. And on that day, August 20th, five thousand Germans surrendered to the 90th Division. The following day the slaughter continued, with 5,500 additional prisoners flooding the cages. The battle of the Falaise Gap was over, the Seventh German Army, except for the scraps which had squeezed through before the trap was hermetically sealed, was no longer in existence. The fighting potential of the German nation had received so lethal a blow that it was never fully to recover.

The 90th had begun the action merely in a supporting role, but before the smoke had cleared the Division had become the motivating force in closing the vital gap. It had withstood the fiercest assaults of which crack German units were capable and had hurled them back. In a period of four days it had taken more than 13,000 prisoners, killed or wounded an estimated 8,000 of the enemy, but itself suffered less than 600 casualties. More than 300 enemy tanks, 250 self-propelled guns, 164 artillery pieces, 3,270 vehicles, and a variety of all type of equipment and weapons were destroyed.

So ended the greatest Allied triumph on the soil of France, the most complete and humiliating defeat ever suffered by the German armed forces. But the 90th was not content to rest on its laurels. But this time the men of the T-O Division knew they were "hot," and so did the Germans who were soon to face them . . . the brawling 90th . . . spoiling for a fight.

Train in the Country

Trophies of the Hunt

Tulip Fields With The Rijnsburg Windmill: 1886

Unloading Coal

Claude Monet painted Unloading Coal in 1875. In this view of the Clichy dock, the silhouetted forms of the porters, making their way across the narrow ramps with their heavy loads, punctuate the sweep of the river from the foreground of the composition into the deep distance.

Framed at the top of the composition with the broad arch of the Clichy Bridge, the painting is suffused with a warm, pale gold light. This work was one of 29 works Monet presented in the fourth Impressionist exhibition.

Vetheuil In Summer

In this view of Vétheuil, painted from the opposite side of the Seine during the summer of 1880, the flicker of individual brushstrokes reflects Monet's concern with recording sensations of color and light as accurately as possible. Ironically, this resulted in paintings with an increasingly abstract character. Indeed, the imagery nearly dissolves in the myriad touches of paint.Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings Inscriptions: Signed and dated (lower right): Claude Monet 1880

View At Rouelles Le Havre

View Over The Sea

Winter at Giverny: 1885

Palazzo da Mula at Venice

Several days of rainy, cold, and windy weather enfuriated Monet, relagating him to inactivity. He spoke of leaving and returning the following year; he began to have doubts; he judged his canvases ugly. But when the sun reappeared, Monet soon took up painting again. These ups and downs in his mood would occur several times during his stay in Venice. In spite of these breaks, the work went on, Alice being "happy to see Monet so impassioned, doing such beautiful things, and -between you and me- something other than those same old water lilies."

Only cold made Monet give up, in spite of the fur coat kindly lent by Louis Aston Knight, a young American painter living in Rolleboise, near Giverny, whom they happened to met at the hotel. On December 3, Monet painted a final sketch, featuring a gondola. They left on December 7, ten weeks after their arrival, never to return. Alice's health began to fail shortly thereafter, and she died in 1911.

Poplars on the Epte

Signed and dated bottom right: Claude Monet 90.

Although dated 1890, this work was actually painted the following year. In the spring of 1891 Monet began work on a series of twenty-three paintings depicting the poplars which lined the left bank of the river Epte, near Limetz, south of Giverny. On 18 June the town decided to auction off the trees. Monet persuaded a wood merchant to buy them jointly with him, on the condition that they were left standing for a few more months to enable the artist to finish his series.

Rue Montargueil with Flags

The Rue Montorgueil, like its twin painting The Rue Saint-Denis, is often thought to be a celebration of July 14. In fact, it was executed on June 30, 1878 on the occasion of the celebration of the end of the World Fair, a demonstration of national and republican enthusiasm a few months only after the great confrontation between republicans and conservators in 1876-1877. This painting proposes a distanced vision of an urban landscape by a painter who did not mix with the crowd, but observed it from a window. The three colours vibrating in Monet's painting are those of modern France.The impressionist technique, with its multitude of small strokes of colour, suggests the animation of the crowd and the wavering of flags. This allowed the American historian Philip Nord to write that it perfectly fits the "republican moment" marking the emergence of a democratic society and its roots in contemporary France. With this painting, Monet revealed a hidden aspect of modernity, while simultaneously achieving the work of a "reporter".

Terrace at St. Adresse

Monet spent the summer of 1867 in Sainte-Adresse, a small town in Normandy. Monet depicts, among others, his cousin, his aunt, and his father, Adolphe, who is seated in the foreground.

The Artists Garden at Vetheuil

This is one of the flattest landscapes ever painted. At around the same time, Cezanne was flattening his still lifes by distorting the tables to a vertical orientation. Monet stops short of distortion through a judicious choice of subject. A hillside staircase provides the form for a dramatic flattening of the painting. Monet accentuates this effect with a strong dividing line going up the right side of the stairs, between the houses and continuing up the chimney to the top of the canvas. The sky and buildings are highly geometrized forms whose flatness serves to bring the deepest part of the composition back up to the picture plane. The stairs are not individually distinguishable; if not for the children placed on them, they could be read as a cliff. The children themselves are frozen in full frontal portrayal, which again contributes to the flattening effect. There are few perspectival clues provided. No clouds are shown that would break up the solid plane of dark blue sky. No shadows can be discerned, even though the scene is bathed in sunlight. This results in a number of interesting ambiguities. Are the buildings next to each other, nearly touching? Or is one or the other to be perceived as in front? The structure on the left seems to be directly at the top of the stairs. But the blue roof on the right draws a line across the pink roof that brings it abruptly forward, hanging precariously over the hillside. Even the sunflowers are puzzling. The blossoms do not diminish in size as would be expected as they near the top of the canvas. As a result, they can be read either as a wall of plants at the base of the staircase, or as rows of vegetation terracing the hillside. This work, so unlike much of Monet's work in its flat plane composition, is a testament to the breadth of his oeuvre.

The Garden in Flowers

1900, Private collection

The Garden of the Princess

This panoramic view of the Quai du Louvre and Left Bank portrays the city of Paris as both stately monument and bustling, modern metropolis. Painted shortly after the opening of the Paris World's Fair, the work is one of several important views of the city painted by Monet, Manet, and Renoir in 1867.

In the spring of 1867 Monet was granted official permission to install himself and his easel in an east end balcony of the Louvre. The resulting paintings are Monet's earliest images of Paris: the Quai du Louvre (The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum); Oberlin's Jardin de l'Infante, painted from nearly the same viewpoint; and St. Germain-l'Auxerrois (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Nationalgalerie). These works belong to a critical moment within Monet's formation of an idiom for painting modern life. Previously, Monet's most ambitious paintings--Déjeuner sur l'Herbe or Femmes au Jardin (both 1866; Paris, Musée d'Orsay)--had focused on the individual comportment and dress of middle-class men and women taking their leisure in intimate, outdoor settings. The Paris views multiply and disperse these figures within a broad expanse of space and atmospheric phenomena, amidst a wide variety of incident, movement, and activity.

In sitting his three Paris paintings at the quai and place du Louvre, Monet could depict a central thoroughfare that had been recently enlarged, repaved, and refurbished, and at the same time, include clearly recognizable portraits of a set of historical Paris monuments. The title and foreground is given to the stately geometry of the Garden of the Princess, whose name evokes the once royal, then imperial, pedigree of the Louvre's inhabitants. Crowning the view is the cupola of the Pantheon, resting place of the great men of French history; flanking it to the left and right are the bell tower of St.-Etienne-du-Mont and the cupola of the Val du Grace. The façades, attics, and chimneys at the far left indicates the Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cité; further back and extending to the right are the buildings along the Left Bank. The tall, dark foliage behind the younger chestnut trees along the quai both signal and obscure the pointe or terminus of the Cité, where the French flag is planted.

Wedged between the chestnut trees and the garden are the place and quai du Louvre, where dozens of figures in transit--riding, strolling, striding, or pausing--are briefly noted and dressed with a few blunt strokes of the brush. The contrast in execution between the buildings and the figures--the attention to detail, surface, and tonal gradation in much of the architecture, and the approximate, improvisational strokes of physiognomy and movement in the figures--suggests a complementary relationship between the city's historical continuities and the dynamic exchanges of contemporary life.

While offering a convincing view of a familiar site, Monet's Paris paintings do not aim for topographical precision. The effects of format and composition are evident when one compares the Jardin de L'Infante with the straightforward though more diffuse organization of the Quai du Louvre at The Hague. The clear shapes of the Oberlin canvas are stacked vertically, from the quai to the sky; while this area is viewed straight on, the garden is viewed from above. The axial disposition of the Oberlin composition is the most complex of the three Paris views. The central, vertical axis created by the Pantheon competes with the elusive slope of the quai and (invisible) Seine; the garden expands beyond the frame of the picture at a sharp angle. Robert Herbert has discussed these elisions and oblique viewpoints as a careful orchestration of the casual, random appearance of things in the modern experience of the city. At the same time, the composition's various symmetries and regular patterns invoke the ordered, controlling aspects of the newly planned city.

The Jardin de l'Infante also demonstrates the persistence--and the peculiarity--of realism in Monet's practice in the 1860s. While his later Impressionist paintings of the boulevards present a homogeneous field of painted marks, creating a strict unity of vision and sensation, the Jardin de l'Infante modulates its brushwork, address, and tonality to register differences in things: from the thicket of grey, white, and blue marks clouding the sky to the seamless expanse of the lawn; from the bright, neutral pavement to the daubed layers of foliage; and from one (briefly indicated) urban type, silhouette, or posture to another.

A. Kurlander

The Studio Boat

Growing up in Saint-Adresse, a bourgeois suburb of the industrial port city of Le Havre, Monet was familiar with nautical craft and had painted them in all shapes and sizes throughout his youth. One of his earliest works is a pencil drawing of frigates and dories he saw regularly along the coast of the English Channel. There is no record of Monet's having done much traveling by boat, except when fleeing to England and Holland during the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. Nor is there evidence that he ever owned a boat before moving to Argenteuil. His father earned his living servicing larger ships as a chandler, so perhaps until this time boats were too closely associated with labor to instill notions of leisure.

That Monet at age thirty-three purchased a boat and rendered it so faithfully is significant on a personal and a practical level. It speaks of his success, as such a boat would have been expensive. Monet earned 24,8oo francs the previous year, or twice what doctors and lawyers were making in Paris at the time, and he was ordering his wines from Narbonne and Bordeaux instead of drinking cheaper local vintages. At the same time, he must have believed that the boat was a reasonable investment. Although he was generally careful about money, he never skimped on professional expenses. He bought his, painting supplies from one of the best houses in Paris, for instance, and maintained a studio in the capital so that he could meet dealers and collectors; he was keen to ensure that his canvases would remain in superb physical condition over time (as most of his work from the Argenteuil period has). Monet also had unwavering confidence in himself as an artist it would do what it took to advance his career.

The Water Lily Pond

In 1883 Monet moved from the north-west of Paris to Giverny where he lived until his death. Adjacent to his property was a small pond which he acquired in 1893, where he created a water garden with an arched bridge in the Japanese style. In 1900 he exhibited a series of ten canvases of the pond, showing a single subject in differing light conditions. He worked on similar series representing poplars, haystacks and the façade of Rouen Cathedral during the same period.

The simple design of this painting with the close-up view of the bridge was repeated in several other canvases. The fresh greens of the foliage evoke an early summer's day.

The Women in the Garden

In 1866, Claude Monet started painting a large picture in the garden of the property he was renting in the Paris suburbs. He faced a twofold challenge: firstly, working in the open-air, which meant lowering the canvas into a trench by means of a pulley so he could work on the upper part without changing his viewpoint; and secondly, working on a large format usually used for historical compositions. But his real aim was elsewhere: finding how to fit figures into a landscape and give the impression that the air and light moved around them.

Monet found a solution by painting the shadows, coloured light, patches of sunshine filtering through the foliage, and pale reflections glowing in the gloom.

Emile Zola wrote in his report on the Salon: "The sun fell straight on to dazzling white skirts; the warm shadow of a tree cut out a large grey piece from the paths and the sunlit dresses. The strangest effect imaginable. One needs to be singularly in love with his time to dare to do such a thing, fabrics sliced in half by the shadow and the sun".

The faces are left vague and cannot be considered portraits. Camille, the artist's companion, posed for the three figures on the left. Monet has skilfully rendered the white of the dresses, anchoring them firmly in the structure of the composition – a symphony of greens and browns – provided by the central tree and the path.

Finished in the studio, the painting was refused by the jury of the 1867 Salon which, apart from the lack of subject and narrative, deplored the visible brushstrokes which it regarded as a sign of carelessness and incompleteness. One of the members of the jury declared: "Too many young people think of nothing but continuing in this abominable direction. It is high time to protect them and save art!"

Water Lilies

Woman with a Parasol

"I'm working like never and at new attempts, figures in the open air as I understand them, made like landscapes. It is an old ream that still worries me and that I want to fulfill once and for all; but it is hard !"

Claude Monet

Source: Web Gallery of Art

Source: Art Renewal Center

This page is the work of Senex Magister

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