Claude Monet (France, November 14, 1840—December 5, 1926) is remembered as the founder of the Impressionist school of painting. In fact, the name of the movement was taken from one of his early paintings, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise).
He always wanted to be an artist. As a boy, he drew charcoal caricatures, which he sold for ten or twenty francs each. His mother, a singer, supported his artistic dreams. His father wanted him to take over the family business, selling groceries and shipping supplies.
An early influence was Eugéne Boudin, whom he met on the beaches of Normandy, and who mentored him in oils and plein air (outdoor painting) techniques. While other young painters copied works of the masters, Monet preferred to work directly from subjects. He was particularly interested in how changes of light affected how things appeared. He often painted the same scenes multiple times, in different seasons and at different times of day, to catalog how the differing light affected the colors.
The traditional way that painting was taught in France in his day did not appeal to Monet. He preferred to dab the paint on, placing different colors next to each other, allowing the eye to blend them rather than blending them on the palette. He and his friends (among them the likes of Manet, Renoir, Degas, Pizarro, and Cézanne) broke with the Salon de Paris and put on their own exhibitions.
Monet married his first wife, Camille, in 1870. She was the subject of several of his paintings, and they had two sons together. She died in 1878. A friend’s estranged wife, Alice, helped him raise his children along with her six.
In 1883 Monet rented a property on two acres in Giverny. He and his extended family improved the gardens, and Monet did some of his best painting there. His dealer was very successful selling his paintings, and Monet bought the property in 1890. When Alice’s husband passed away, Monet married her.
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