Claude Monet Biography: The Riveting Story of Claude Monet’s Inspirational Journey

Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris, France. From an early age, he demonstrated an interest and talent for drawing and painting.

When Monet was five years old, his family moved to Le Havre on the Norman coast. He grew up by the sea and developed a lifelong appreciation for nature and outdoor scenes. As a teenager, Monet took caricature commissions to earn money and met fellow artist Eugène Boudin, who encouraged him to paint outdoors and capture the effects of light. This en plein air approach deeply influenced Monet’s later work.

What were Monet’s early influences as an artist?

Monet’s early influences included nature and seascapes from growing up in Le Havre, taking caricature commissions as a teenager, and the guidance of artist Eugène Boudin who introduced him to outdoor painting. These experiences shaped his distinctive en plein air approach and Impressionist style later on.

In 1859, Monet moved to Paris to pursue his artistic ambitions. He studied figure drawing and landscape painting techniques by working with academic artists like Charles Gleyre. During this time, Monet met and befriended other likeminded young painters including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. They shared experimental approaches and plein air landscape painting sessions.

Who did Monet meet and befriend while studying art in Paris?

In Paris, Monet met and befriended the young avant-garde painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. Together they would pioneer what came to be known as Impressionism.

Early Works and the Impressionist Movement (1863-1889)

Monet struggled with poverty but continued focusing intensely on his landscape paintings throughout the 1860s. He absorbed ideas from the revolutionary art being displayed in several Salon des Refusés exhibitions, and continued painting out in nature to capture specific effects of color, light, and form.

Monet’s work began receiving some critical praise and recognition by the late 1860s. In 1869 he completed one of his most seminal early works, La Grenouillére:

La Grenouillére 1869 Oil on canvas
Displayed innovative plein air technique capturing a Parisian riverside resort scene in vivid color and light Influential in the Impressionist movement Shown at the Salon in 1869 to some critical acclaim

How did Monet’s painting style evolve over the 1860s and what was his seminal early work?

Over the 1860s, Monet focused intensely on landscape painting en plein air to capture specific light and color effects, foreshadowing the Impressionist movement. His 1869 work La Grenouillére displayed these innovative techniques in a vivid outdoor scene, bringing some critical acclaim and influence.

In 1872, Monet again broke new ground with his monumental work Impression, Sunrise. This atmospheric harbor scene gave rise to the name of the new Impressionist movement when used by an art critic in a satirical review of the group’s 1874 exhibition. Monet became a leading figure within this core group of avant-garde painters that also included Renoir, Sisley, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro, Paul Cézanne, and Berthe Morisot.

The Impressionists sought to capture modern life and nature with a radically different style focusing on vivid overall visual impressions rather than precise details. Their unusual brushwork, everyday subject matter, and unusual shifting color palettes sparked both admiration and controversy from critics and collectors.

As the Impressionist movement developed through the 1870s, Monet conceived his seminal series works systematically exploring variations under different conditions of light, weather, and season. His late 1870s series like Grainstacks and Rouen Cathedral would hugely influence modern abstract approaches to motifs.

What landmark Monet work gave the Impressionist movement its name?

Monet’s 1872 work Impression, Sunrise gave rise to critic Louis Leroy coining the term “Impressionism” when reviewing the Impressionists’ first independent group exhibition in 1874. The name stuck as a description of their radical plein air style emphasizing overall visual impressions.

By 1889, Monet’s works were still selling poorly and his family was struggling financially. But his paintings were attracting increasing critical praise and ushering artistic tastes toward the modern era. He continued working prolifically through travels in France painting rural scenes, coastal vistas, and cultural landmarks.

Mature Works and Legacy at Giverny (1890-1926)

In 1890, Monet rented a home with farm buildings and land in the pastoral French hamlet of Giverny. This became his primary residence, studio, and muse for the rest of his life. The gardens he meticulously designed and cultivated attracted him as living works of art immersed in nature’s colors, forms, and reflections of light.

Key Monet Works at Giverny Style and Subjects from this Period
– Extensive flower garden scenes
– Japanese bridge over lily pond
– Large-scale multicontrast panels of haystacks, poplars, weeping willows
– Abstract late waterlily panels
– Natural color harmonies and reflective qualities
– Soft, atmospheric effects
– Morning to night versions under different lighting
– Textural expressive brushwork

Monet became tremendously productive in this pastoral home and paradise, further exploring his motifs through nuances of season, light, and weather. By 1910 his vision deteriorated with cataracts but he refused most medical advice and continued painting astonishing canvases with more boldly abstracted color forms.

Following the 1914 death of his wife Alice, Monet’s work depicted her enduring memory through a series of evocative rose arbors. Friends and family protected Monet’s secluded life at Giverny during World War I while he focused almost obsessively on paintings of his lily pond’s Japanese bridge.

As he reached his 80s, Monet achieved enormous public renown. Major exhibitions were held of his work in 1909 and 1912. Museums, collectors, and young artists all celebrated Monet as among the most important pioneers of modern art.

Though suffering from failing vision and health, he still managed to complete several mural-sized Waterlilies panels from 1919-1926 that brought his career’s achievements to a glorious conclusion. Today dropping by Monet’s enchanting home at Giverny remains a hugely popular pilgrimage for art lovers exploring the Paris region.

How did Monet’s subject matter and style evolve during his later Giverny period?

At Giverny from 1890 onward, Monet focused extensively on painting his residence’s flower gardens and lily pond under different natural lighting effects, seasons, and weather. His brushwork became increasingly abstract and textural to suggest atmospheric shifts rather than photographic realism. As Monet’s vision deteriorated, his late Waterlilies panels from 1914-1926 created stunning nearly abstract color harmonies shimmering across large canvases.


In reviewing the key aspects of Claude Monet’s life from 1840-1926, we can appreciate both the formative experiences influencing his work along with the pioneering artistic style he helped develop.

Monet conveyed a profound reverence for nature in his paintings, capturing fleeting moments of color and light in thick expressive brushwork. His ceaseless explorations of series like haystacks, cathedrals, poplars, and water lilies sought to analytical capture subtle aesthetic variances much like living experiments.

The seminal body of work Monet produced while ensconced in his beloved gardens at Giverny established new philosophical directions for modern art. His late career Water Lilies panels verge into mesmerizing abstraction through their shimmering color harmonies.

As one of the most renowned and identifiable Impressionist painters, Monet opened the eyes of peers, critics and the public to appreciating modern life and environments in radically modern visual terms. His enduring accomplishments made Monet among the most beloved and seminal artists bridging 19th and 20th century sensibilities.


When and where was Claude Monet born?

Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris, France.

What art movement is Claude Monet associated with?

Claude Monet was one of the founders and central figures of the Impressionist art movement that emerged in France during the 1870s.

What was Monet’s painting style?

Monet’s signature painting style was plein air landscape painting seeking to capture ephemeral effects of natural light, color, and atmosphere in thick textural brushwork rather than precise realistic details.

Why did Monet paint the same subjects like haystacks over and over?

Monet repeatedly explored series of the same subjects like haystacks, poplars, Rouen Cathedral under different conditions of season, weather and light to analyze variations in their color effects, similar to a living science experiment.

Where was Monet’s famous home and garden?

From 1883 until his death in 1926, Monet’s home and studio was in Giverny, France – about 50 miles northwest of Paris. The lush flower gardens and iconic green Japanese bridge over the lily pond there became the subjects of many of his most famous works.