gigatos | November 25, 2021
Claude Monet, born as Oscar-Claude Monet on November 14, 1840 in Paris and died on December 5, 1926 in Giverny, was a French painter and one of the founders of Impressionism.
He began his career as an artist by painting portraits of the notables of the city of Le Havre. In 1859, he left for Paris to try his luck on the advice of Eugène Boudin. In 1866, he was successful at the Salon of Painting and Sculpture thanks to The Woman in a Green Dress representing Camille Doncieux whom he married on June 28, 1870. He fled the war of 1870 to London, then to the Netherlands. In the English capital, he met the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who would be his main source of income for the rest of his career. He returned to France in 1871 and participated in the first exhibition of the future Impressionists in 1874.
In 1876, he met Ernest Hoschedé, a patron of the arts who soon went bankrupt. The death of Camille in 1879 and Ernest”s numerous absences, lead to a rapprochement between Monet and Alice Hoschedé. In addition to intensively painting the Seine, Claude regularly went to the Normandy coast to paint. In 1883, he, his two children and the Hoschedé family moved permanently to Giverny. It was at this time that his financial troubles came to an end.
From 1890 onwards, Monet devoted himself to series of paintings, that is to say, he painted the same motif at different times of the day, in different seasons. He sometimes painted dozens of canvases in parallel, changing according to the present effect. He began with The Millstones, followed by The Poplars, the Rouen Cathedrals series, the London Parliaments series and The Water Lilies in his garden, which he used in large format to paint large decorations. The end of his life was marked by the death of Alice and by an illness, cataracts, which affected his work. He died at the age of 86 of lung cancer.
Monet painted in front of the model on the entire canvas from the first drafts, then retouched many times until the result satisfied him. Contrary to what he claims, he finished most of his paintings in the studio, taking the first paintings of a series as a model to paint the others.
Of a sometimes difficult character, quick to anger as well as to discouragement, Claude Monet is a great worker who does not hesitate to defy the elements to practice his passion. Monet sums up his life in the best way: “What is there to say about me? What can there be to say, I ask you, of a man who is interested in nothing in the world but his painting – and also his garden and his flowers?”
Childhood and adolescence (1840-1858)
Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 at 45, rue Laffitte in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. He was the second son of Adolphe and Louise-Justine Monet, née Aubrée, after Léon Pascal, called Léon (1836-1917). Baptized under the name Oscar-Claude in the church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Paris, in early 1841, he was called “Oscar” by his parents. He likes to say later that he is a true Parisian. His parents were both born in Paris, while his grandparents had already settled there around 1800. The family, including the paternal grandparents, moved to Le Havre in Normandy around 1845, the year he was five years old. This move was certainly provoked by the precarious financial situation in which Claude Adolphe found himself. The influence of his half-sister, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre, née Gaillard, wife and daughter of Le Havre merchants, was also certainly a factor. It was she who, following the death of Louise-Justine Monet in 1857, raised Léon and Oscar.
The young Oscar was not a very diligent student according to his own words, but he appears in the annals of the Le Havre college located on rue de la Mailleraye, which he attended from April 1, 1851 as “an excellent nature very sympathetic to his fellow students. He developed a taste for drawing at an early age and followed with interest the classes of Ochard, a former student of David. His first drawings were “portrait-charges” of people (professors, politicians) whose Monet “engulfs the margins of his books … distorting as much as possible the face or profile of his masters” in his own words. He already made sketches of boats and landscapes in the “open air” on the ground.
On January 28, 1857, his mother dies and he abandons his studies. His aunt Jeanne Lecadre (1790-1870), who herself painted in her spare time, welcomed him and encouraged him to continue drawing. Faced with the success of his caricatures, he decided to sign them “O. Monet” and to sell them to a paper-framer, named Gravier, former associate of Eugène Boudin who entrusted him with the trading of some of his paintings. It is there that Claude Monet will meet him, probably at the beginning of 1858, a decisive meeting for his artistic career: “If I became a painter, it is to Eugène Boudin that I owe it”.
Monet began to paint his first landscape canvases in the summer of 1858. He presented two of them at the municipal exhibition of Fine Arts of the city of Le Havre, which took place in August and September of the same year. These two paintings, strongly influenced by Boudin”s technique, were accepted and presented under the unique title: Landscape. Valley of Rouelles. In view of this success, Boudin advised his young colleague to leave Le Havre for Paris in order to take courses and meet other artists.
First stay in Paris (1859-1860)
Claude Monet arrived in Paris in April 1859 and moved into the Hôtel du Nouveau Monde, Place du Havre. He immediately visited the newly opened salon. Then he was welcomed by Amand Gautier, a friend of his aunt Lecadre. She pays him a regular pension and manages his savings of about 2,000 francs accumulated through the sale of drawings. His father applied for a scholarship from the city of Le Havre on August 6, 1858, but was refused. He also visited Charles Lhuillier, Constant Troyon and Charles Monginot. The latter two advised him to enter the studio of Thomas Couture, who was preparing for the École des Beaux-Arts. However, the latter refused the young Monet. At the beginning of 1860, probably in February, he entered the Académie Suisse, located on the Île de la Cité, which Charles Suisse directed. There he met Camille Pissarro. During the salon of this year, he particularly admires the works of Eugène Delacroix, the year before it was Daubigny who attracted his attention. However, this first stay was not only devoted to work. Indeed, Claude spent a significant part of his time in Parisian cafés and more particularly at the Brasserie des Martyrs, then a meeting place for authors and artists.
Algeria and return to Normandy (1861-1862)
On March 2, 1861, Monet was drawn by lot in Le Havre to be conscripted. Of course, his family could have paid the exemption of 2,500 francs, but this was linked to his renunciation of his career as an artist to take over the family business. Monet refused to do so and joined the 1st regiment of chasseurs d”Afrique on April 29, 1861 and was stationed at Mustapha in Algeria. At the beginning of 1862, he contracted typhoid fever in Algiers and was allowed to return to Le Havre during the summer. His aunt, Jeanne Lecadre, agreed to get him out of the army and to pay the 3,000 francs or so that the exemption cost, on condition that he take art classes at the academy. He left the army, but did not like the traditional styles of painting taught at the academy. On the other hand, in spite of what may seem to be unpleasant experiences in Algeria, Monet has good memories of it in general. He said to Gustave Geffroy: “It did me a lot of good in every respect and put some lead in my head. I could not think of anything else but painting, intoxicated as I was by this admirable country, and from then on I had the full approval of my family who saw me so full of ardor. In 1862, he befriended Johan Barthold Jongkind and met Eugène Boudin again, during his stay in Sainte-Adresse.
Towards maturity (1862-1865)
In the same year, 1862, he began to study art in the studio of the Imperial School of Fine Arts in Paris, directed by Charles Gleyre, thanks to the recommendations of his cousin by marriage Auguste Toulmouche. However, he soon left his master”s studio because he disagreed with his master on the way he presented nature. Indeed, Gleyre, whose art advocated a return to antiquity, favored an idealization of forms while Monet reproduced it as it was. After he told Monet: “Remember, young man, that when you paint a figure, you must always think of the antique”, that same evening, he gathered Frédéric Bazille, Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley and suggested, according to his statement, that they leave Gleyre”s studio, which they did 15 days later, in the spring of 1863.
This rapid passage at the Imperial School of Fine Arts nevertheless allowed him to meet Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frédéric Bazille, with whom he later maintained an important correspondence. In the spring of 1863, having become a copyist at the Louvre, Monet went with Bazille to paint in front of nature at Chailly-en-Bière near Barbizon.
In mid-May 1864, Monet returned to the Normandy coast and in particular to Honfleur with Bazille. He lived for a while at the Saint-Siméon farm. Frédéric returned to Paris, while Claude continued to paint in Normandy. At the end of August, he met again with Jongkind and Boudin. From his period in Honfleur with these two painters, Monet will keep an attachment and they will have an essential influence in the genesis of his art. It was also during this period that a quarrel broke out with his family who threatened to cut him off. He then called Bazille for help for the first time.
At the end of 1864, Claude moved with Frédéric to a studio in Paris. He presented two views of the Seine estuary taken in Honfleur and Sainte-Adresse to the jury of the 1865 Salon: La Pointe de la Hève and Embouchure de la Seine. Accepted by the jury, these two works were exhibited and met with a positive reception, particularly from the critics. Later, he painted his Déjeuner sur l”herbe on the pavement of Chailly, a large canvas (4.65 × 6 m) which, given by the artist in despair in 1865 and bought back by him in 1920, remained unfinished.
In 1866, he met Camille Doncieux, who became one of his models. Unable to complete Le Déjeuner sur l”herbe for the 1866 Salon, Monet exhibited La Femme en robe verte, a portrait of his fiancée Camille, hastily and furiously executed in only four days. This painting was a great success at the Salon of the same year and was highly acclaimed, notably by Émile Zola. It was exhibited with a painting representing the forest of Fontainebleau done two years earlier. Here Monet establishes an association between two radically opposed works belonging to two distinct genres, which he sought to unite in his Déjeuner. He also sent a paving stone from Chailly to the salon. He then painted Women in the Garden, first in Sèvres, then in Honfleur. This work, which shows for the first time the natural and changing light, is refused by the jury of the salon, in 1867 (the same is true for The Port of Honfleur, another painting presented by Monet that year). In addition, the petition launched by many artists to have an exhibition of the rejected works was rejected.
These successive refusals plunge Claude Monet into a very delicate financial situation. Despite the purchase of the painting Women in the Garden for 2,500 francs by Frédéric Bazille, Claude was more than ever in dire straits, especially since Camille was pregnant. He was forced to return to Normandy to be with his family. He spent the summer painting: The Beach of Sainte-Adresse, Pier of Le Havre, Terrace in Sainte-Adresse, etc. Camille gave birth to Jean Monet on August 8, 1867. This is the year he represented her sitting next to the child”s cradle in a painting that was kept in 1966 in a Mellon collection, as well as a portrait of them – sitting under a shrub in their garden in Argenteuil – from 1874 by Renoir.
In 1868, one of his two paintings presented, Ships leaving the jetties of Le Havre, was accepted at the Salon. However, the reception of this work is not very enthusiastic and disappoints critics and artists.
At that time, he often got loans from his friends, among whom was Bazille. His paintings were often seized to the point that he made the mistake of attempting suicide in the spring of 1868 before leaving Bennecourt: he threw himself into the water. Despite the genuine sense of desolation that led to this gesture, he came out of it without a care in the world as he was a very good swimmer; his fearlessness was further strengthened and he never made a mistake of this kind again . The summer of that same year seemed to be more auspicious, however, as Mr. Gaudibert, a wealthy shipowner from Le Havre, commissioned several paintings from him, including a portrait of his wife. In addition, five of his paintings were accepted at the International Maritime Exhibition held in Le Havre. At the end of the year, Claude Monet lived with his wife and son in Fécamp, his family refusing to take in the young woman.
In 1869, he moved to Bougival. On the island of Croissy, in the company of Renoir, he painted the Grenouillère baths (Bain à la Grenouillère), thus inventing the impressionist painting technique. That year and the following one, all his paintings were refused by the salon under the impulse of Gérôme. Despite his persistent poverty, he married Camille on June 28, 1870, at the town hall of the 8th district of Paris.
London and the Netherlands (1870-1871)
France”s entry into the war in July 1870 did not arouse any nationalist feelings in Monet, nor did the establishment of the Government of National Defense. In this tense context, he wished to move away from Paris, which was becoming more and more agitated. He then moved to Trouville, where he painted many outdoor canvases such as The Beach of Trouville or Hotel des Roches noires.
Frédéric Bazille, who often helped Monet, died on the battlefield at Beaune-la-Rolande on November 28, 1870. At the end of the year, Claude did not want to serve in the military and decided to leave for London. There he found some of his acquaintances such as Pissarro. He admired the works of the British painters Turner and John Constable and was impressed by the former”s treatment of light, particularly in the works depicting the fog on the Thames. This stay was also an opportunity to meet the American painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler, also influenced by Turner, with whom he became friends, and especially the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who would be decisive for his career. Finally, this stay was also an opportunity for Monet to paint, especially the London gardens and the Thames, and to further develop his technique, going further and further in the disruption of tradition. Destitute, he painted only six pictures in the space of seven or eight months, which is very little for him. Among these is the portrait of his wife Camille, entitled Meditation. Madame Monet on the sofa, in which one can perceive the kind of depression that animated him. However, Monet was interested in the light of London and wished he could return to paint the Thames, which he did in a hundred paintings between 1899 and 1901.
His father died on January 17, 1871. But Monet did not return to France and did not attend the funeral, fearing the reception that would be given to those who, like him, had shirked their patriotic obligations.
At the end of May 1871, he went to the Netherlands and settled in Zaandam with Camille and Jean. He painted 25 canvases during his four-month stay.
It was during a visit to nearby Amsterdam that he discovered Japanese prints in a store and began collecting them.
In December 1871, Monet and his family moved into a house with a garden in Argenteuil, near the Seine. His father”s inheritance and his wife”s dowry helped to improve the material conditions. In addition, during 1872, he made important purchases from Durand-Ruel: 29 paintings in all, some of which were exhibited in London; it was also at this time that he acquired his boat-studio, which gave him access to new vistas. This was the year that Renoir portrayed him sitting at a table reading a book while smoking a long pipe.
In December 1873, Durand-Ruel, victim of financial problems, had to reduce then suspend his purchases.
On April 15, 1874, the First Exhibition of Impressionist Painters organized by the Société anonyme coopératives d”artiste opened its doors in Nadar”s studio at 35, boulevard des Capucines. It presents the works of various artists who would later call themselves Impressionists. In particular, a landscape of the port of Le Havre was presented: Impression, Rising Sun. Attracting only 3,500 visitors during its opening month, the event was not as successful as expected and many critics and journalists were hostile. To add to this failure, the company found itself, at the end of the event, on the verge of bankruptcy, forcing it to dissolve. Finally, it was during this exhibition that the term impressionist was used for the first time, and ironically, in a review by Louis Leroy published in the Charivari of April 25, 1874.
In April 1876, against all odds, the second exhibition took place at Durand-Ruel. Monet exhibited 18 paintings. The critics were, this time, less virulent; praises were even addressed to Claude Monet. At the end of the summer of the same year, he moved to the Château de Rottembourg de Montgeron to work on the decoration of some of his rooms. The house belongs to Ernest Hoschedé and his wife Alice, born Raingo, from a rich family of Belgian origin by the father. They lived there with their five children.
In 1877, he painted a series of paintings at the Saint-Lazare station. Monet sent 8 paintings from this series to the third Impressionist exhibition. For the first time, a magazine, L”impressioniste, was published to accompany the exhibition and comment on the various works presented. It was also the first time that the Impressionist painters used the term Impressionism, which they considered appropriate to designate and identify their style. The exhibition was a success and received critical acclaim.
Return to Paris then Vétheuil (1878-1880)
At the beginning of 1878, obliged to reduce his lifestyle, Monet left Argenteuil and moved temporarily to Paris, rue d”Édimbourg. He managed to pay his creditors in extremis so that his paintings would not be seized. On March 17, 1878, Camille gave birth to a second son: Michel. She never fully recovered from this birth, remaining in a state of fatigue and continual weakness. Monet, worried about her, would often express his fears about her in his various letters. During this period, Monet painted the Ile de la Grande-Jatte and La Rue Montorgueil.
In August 1878, the Monets and the Hoschedés moved into a small house in Vétheuil, near Pontoise. The former patron, Ernest Hoschedé, had gone bankrupt due to his speculation on works of art; his entire collection, which included 16 of Monet”s paintings, was put up for public sale.
In the course of 1879, worries about money and Camille”s health kept Monet away from the other Impressionist painters and from Paris, where he went only to sell his works. However, he participated in the fourth exhibition of the Impressionist group held that year on the Avenue de l”Opéra. Monet exhibited 29 paintings. Produced between 1867 and 1878, they offer a summary of the painter”s career and his artistic evolution.
Camille, still ill, was unable to recover. To try to save her and finance the care she needed, Monet sold the last paintings he had done. In vain. She died on September 5, 1879 after much suffering. Monet bears witness to the last moments of his wife by painting a portrait of her on her deathbed.
Camille”s death will result in two ruptures for the painter. The first is of an aesthetic nature. It is clearly visible in the paintings, Débâcles and Glaçons, that he made of the Seine caught in the ice, during the harsh winter of 1880: unreal colors, absence of human beings, etc. The second break with the other Impressionist painters. The latter did not really accept this choice and published, on January 24, 1880 in the pages of Le Gaulois, a notice of Monet”s death: “The funeral of Mr. Claude Monet will be celebrated on May 1, 1880 at ten o”clock in the morning in the church of the Palais de l”Industrie – Mr. Cabanel”s salon. Please do not attend. Another manifestation of this second rupture: Monet presented two new paintings to the salon”s jury, something he had not done for years. One of the two works, a painting of the village of Lavacourt, was accepted. However, exposed at 6 m from the ground, just under the ceiling, it went rather unnoticed.
This failure was quickly forgotten: the newspaper La Vie Moderne, directed by Georges Charpentier, proposed to organize an exhibition devoted solely to him. It opened on June 7, 1880 and presented 18 paintings. It was accompanied by a catalog which, in addition to a preface by Théodore Duret and a description of the works, contained an interview by Monet with the journalist Émile Taboureux. This exhibition was a real success as the painter made enough transactions to pay off his debts.
At that time, Ernest Hoschedé being often absent, Claude, now widowed, lives with Alice and her children. This way of life is pointed out by the society of the time.
However, during the summer and fall of 1880, Monet regularly went to the Normandy coast to work.
In 1881, the financial situation gradually improved, especially since Durand-Ruel regularly purchased his works. However, in December of the same year, having been unable to pay his rent, he moved with his two sons, Alice and her six children to Poissy. By living under the same roof, their concubinage became known to all; it was a scandalous situation at the time.
On March 1, 1882, the 7th exhibition of independent artists opened its doors in the Reichshoffen salons at 251, rue Saint-Honoré. It was the last Impressionist exhibition in which Monet participated. He exhibited 35 paintings, including Fleurs de Topinambours, two versions of débâcles sur la Seine and views of Vétheuil and Poissy.
Later, during the summer and then during the winter, Monet returned to the Normandy coast: first to Dieppe, then to Pourville.
On February 28, 1883, a new exhibition devoted to Monet opened at 9, boulevard de la Madeleine, in the new Durand-Ruel premises. The 56 paintings on display offered a complete retrospective of the painter”s career, from the first paintings of 1864 to the last ones painted in 1882 on the Normandy coast. Despite this, the exhibition was poorly attended and sales were disappointing, but the press reviews were mostly positive.
Installation in Giverny and serial trips (1883-1889)
Eager to leave Poissy where he never really liked, Claude Monet looked for a place where he and his family could settle permanently. His search led him to Giverny, near Vernon in Normandy. In this small village, he found a “farmer”s house” at a place called the Pressoir, bordered by a vegetable garden and an orchard, the Clos Normand. The walled property covers nearly one hectare. Its owner, Louis-Joseph Singeot, agreed to rent it and Monet and his family moved in on April 29th 1883. A tenant for several years, Monet finally bought the house and the adjoining garden in 1890 when his financial situation improved.
At the end of 1883, he went with Renoir to the Mediterranean coast. The two of them traveled from Marseille to Genoa, then visited Cézanne in L”Estaque. After a short return to Giverny, Monet took the road to the South again on his own in January 1884. This time he went to Bordighera and Menton. Amazed by nature and wild landscapes, Monet painted about forty canvases representing the most picturesque sites such as the valleys of Sasso or Nervia.
In November 1884, begins a long friendship with the writer Octave Mirbeau, who is from now on his official singer and contributes to his recognition.
In 1885, during a trip to the Normandy coast, in Étretat, Monet concluded an agreement with the gallery owner Georges Petit: from then on, the latter would purchase and market some of the painter”s works. The exclusivity that Durand-Ruel had enjoyed until then was thus broken. At the end of the year, Monet announced his wish to deal only with Petit. In addition, Monet, not wishing to depend totally on gallery owners, maintained and developed his network of collectors.
In 1886, despite the rupture between the two men, Paul Durand-Ruel opened the doors of the American market to Monet by establishing links with the American Art Association: the official recognition he obtained on the other side of the Atlantic had the effect of developing the market for impressionist art in France in the 1890s.
That same year, Monet returned to the Netherlands, at the invitation of Baron d”Estournelles de Constant, Secretary of the French Embassy in The Hague. During this stay, he discovered the tulip fields, which he painted several times (At Sassenheim, near Haarlem, Tulip Field or Tulip Field in Holland). At the end of the year, in search of original motifs, he decided to go and paint in Belle-Île-en-Mer. He painted about forty canvases, the main subjects of which were the Aiguilles de Port-Coton (The Pyramids of Port-Coton, wild sea), and the bay of Port Domois, in particular the Roche Guibel. He was interviewed by Gustave Geffroy, a critic for the newspaper La Justice, directed by Clemenceau. He became one of the most fervent admirers of the painter.
At the beginning of 1888, he returned to the Côte d”Azur, to the Château de La Pinède, in Antibes. There he produced about thirty paintings strongly inspired by Japanese prints. Ten of them were sold to Theo van Gogh and presented the following year at the Boussod, Valadon et Cie gallery where they met with great success.
In February 1889, he went to Maurice Rollinat”s house in Creuse with Geffroy and some friends. He returned to attend the inauguration of the fourth Paris World”s Fair where he exhibited three paintings, then returned to the Creuse in March, this time alone. During this stay, he painted about twenty canvases, nine of which had the Creuse ravine as their subject.
In June 1889, Auguste Rodin and Claude Monet jointly exhibited “Nothing but you and me” in the Parisian gallery of Georges Petit. This exhibition brings together 145 paintings and 36 sculptures and benefits from a catalog in which there is a note devoted to Rodin by Geffroy and one devoted to Monet by Mirbeau. The painter offers a true retrospective of his career from La Pointe de la Hève in 1864 to the last paintings of 1889. If the eulogistic comments concern Rodin more than Monet, and if the latter remains sometimes contested, the exhibition prefigures his future successes.
In 1889, Monet became totally involved in obtaining the necessary subscriptions to purchase Manet”s Olympia and donated it to the Louvre. The difficulties and opposition he had to face in order to complete this transaction kept him away from his brushes for a long time: the return to painting was therefore very difficult. It was on this occasion that he made a turning point in his career by tackling the series.
The time of the series
The year 1890 was a turning point in Monet”s life. Working trips became much rarer. It was the time of the series, a pictorial genre known to his friend Boudin, and whose idea had gradually become established with the Saint-Lazare stations, then, for example, in 1886 with the two Essais de figure en plein-air (Woman with a parasol turned to the right and Woman with a parasol turned to the left), the Rochers de Belle-Île in the same year, and above all, La Petite Creuse in 1889, during his stay at Fresselines. This period begins at the end of 1890 with Les Meules, a series composed of more than twenty versions. These imposing wheat sheaves are located near his home. He began painting them in 1888, but the year 1890 really marks the beginning of the tireless repetition of the same motif in search of different effects. This was confirmed by the purchase of the Clos de Giverny in the fall of 1890 for 22,000 francs.
At the end of 1890, Ernest Hoschedé, ill, is bedridden. Alice, surely overcome with remorse, comes to his bedside. He died on March 19, 1891. Monet bought, at the request of his children-in-law, a plot in the cemetery of Giverny to bury Ernest Hoschedé.
Barely two months later, on May 4, 1891, an exhibition devoted to Monet opened in the Parisian gallery of Durand-Ruel. Entitled Recent Works by Claude Monet, it featured, among others, fifteen paintings of the Meules. In the catalog, each of these paintings is titled Meules, but each time with a temporal precision. The paintings and this presentation detail were a great critical success, especially with journalists.
In 1891, Monet followed the course of the Epte in search of a new motif that could be the subject of a series: The Poplars. He worked there from late spring to late autumn. On October 8, 1891, he paid the wood merchant in order to delay the felling of these trees which were in Limetz.
Immediately after its completion, this series aroused the interest of dealers and gallery owners: Maurice Jouant, bought several paintings for the Boussod and Valadon gallery; Durand-Ruel acquired seven of them for 28,000 francs and created an exhibition devoted solely to this series.
In 1892, Monet looked for a new subject that could be the subject of a series and that was not a natural element. He chose the cathedral of Rouen. His first works, which he painted from Fernand Lévy”s house, located opposite the cathedral, did not turn out as he had hoped. When he returned to Giverny in April, he refused to show the results to anyone but his most faithful friends. He spent the rest of the year working on all his paintings in his studio. He returned to Rouen on February 16, 1893, and positioned himself in two different locations, but always facing the building and at different times of day.
The same year, Suzanne Hoschedé met Theodore Butler, an American painter. After a period of hesitation, the wedding was decided. Monet took the opportunity to marry Alice on July 16, Suzanne and Theodore were married on the 20th.
On February 5, 1893, in Giverny, he bought a partially marshy plot of land crossed by a river branch. It is ideally located in front of the house below the Chemin du Roy where a railroad track passes, which will make Georges Clemenceau say “and in addition, he has the train at home! In this house in Giverny, he made many changes and created the water garden and dug the water lily pond. He also became increasingly interested in gardening, as evidenced by his visit to the director of the Rouen plant garden.
He completed the twenty-eight paintings that make up the Cathedrals series in his studio in 1894. Like the previous series, the cathedrals were destined to be a success and Monet knew it. That is why he was going to play the competition between the gallery owners, in particular between Paul Durand-Ruel and Georges Petit. This stratagem allowed him to obtain the best exhibition conditions and a larger sum of money for the sale of these paintings.
For the series of cathedrals, Durand-Ruel obtained the exclusive right to exhibit it, at the not inconsiderable price of 12,000 francs for each painting. This exhibition took place from 10 to 31 May 1895 and was entitled Œuvres récentes. It was again a success. Among the numerous criticisms of the journalists, the one of Georges Clemenceau, titled Revolution of the Cathedrals, is particularly distinguished by the relevance and the accuracy of its analysis.
Finally, it should be noted that at the beginning of 1895, i.e. before the exhibition devoted in part to cathedrals, Monet went to Norway, to Christiania. He set up his easel at Lake Daeli, Mount Kolsaas, Kirkerud and Sandviken. He brought back a total of twenty-eight canvases that he almost never reworked once he returned to France.
The years 1896 and 1897 were much quieter for Monet. Indeed, he devoted himself more to his gardens at Giverny: on the one hand, by continuing their development and on the other hand, by beginning to use them as a motif for his paintings, which lasted until the end of his life. He did not travel much, except to the Normandy coast, notably to Pourville and Varengeville where he painted The Fisherman”s House or The Cliff at Varengeville.
Upon his return, he embarked on a new series, Les Matinées, which he created near his home, on the Seine. The surface of the river seems to inspire him and offer him new perspectives.
In 1897, Monet and his wife saw Jean, the son of the former, marry Blanche, the daughter of the latter.
In the Dreyfus affair, Monet resolutely sided with Zola from 1897 and expressed his admiration for the J”accuse. He signed the petition known as the “manifesto of intellectuals” which appeared in the newspaper L”Aurore, but refused to join a support group.
In 1898, he learned of the death of his teenage friend, Eugène Boudin.
The beginning of the year 1899 is marked by the death of Suzanne at thirty-one years old. Very affected by this death, Alice felt a grief from which she would never fully recover. Moreover, from this moment on, Monet, in his correspondence, appears more concerned about his wife and her state of health. This concern led him to involve Alice more in his travels and activities.
At the same time, he began to paint the Japanese bridge of the basin, a prelude to the water lilies. He also built a second studio next to his home.
In 1900, the Impressionists were exhibited at the Paris World”s Fair, a sign of official recognition. Their paintings, including two by Monet, were placed in the Grand Palais as part of the Centennial Exhibition.
In 1901 he painted Leicester Square at night.
In 1902, Germaine Hoschedé, then, in 1903, Jean-Pierre Hoschedé, got married, leaving the family home and plunging Alice into a deep melancholy. Thanks to the acquisition, a few years earlier, of a Panhard-Levassor, Monet took his wife, in 1904, to Madrid, then to Toledo, in order to give her back the joy of living. During this three-week stay, the painter admired the works of Velasquez and El Greco.
In 1904, from May 9 to June 4, Monet exhibited at Durand-Ruel. He presented thirty-seven Views of the Thames in London. Despite the undeniable success of this exhibition, critics, more receptive to the geometric forms imposed by Cézanne, rejected the dissolution of forms that Monet showed in his paintings.
After London, Monet painted mainly controlled nature: his own garden, his water lilies, his pond and his bridge. From November 22 to December 15, 1900, a new exhibition dedicated to him was held at the Durand-Ruel gallery. About ten versions of the water lily pond were presented. This same exhibition was organized in February 1901 in New York, where it was a great success.
In 1901, Monet enlarged the pond at his home by purchasing a meadow on the other side of the Ru, the local stream. He then divided his time between working on nature and working in his studio.
The paintings devoted to the water lilies evolve according to the transformations of the garden. Moreover, Monet gradually modified the aestheticism by abandoning, around 1905, any reference to the limits of the water and therefore of perspective. He also changed the shape and size of his canvases from rectangular to square and then circular.
However, it is important to note that these paintings were created with great difficulty: Monet, in fact, spent time reworking them in order to find the perfect effect and impression and, when he did not succeed, did not hesitate to destroy them. He constantly postponed the Durand-Ruel exhibition that was to present them to the public. After several postponements since 1906, the exhibition, named The Water Lilies, series of waterscapes, finally opened on May 6, 1909. Comprising forty-eight paintings dated from 1903 to 1908, this exhibition was once again a success.
In the fall of 1908, Monet and his wife stayed in Venice, at the Palazzo Barbaro, among an elite group of art lovers. In such good company, the painter often found himself distracted and had great difficulty working. During the month of his stay, he made only a few sketches. Consequently, a year later, he made a second stay there and this time realized many paintings that he would take back to his studio. They will finally be delivered in 1912 and exhibited at the Bernheim-Jeune brothers.
Despite the success, the beginning of 1909 is difficult. Indeed, Alice fell ill on her way back from Venice and spent the whole month of January in bed. The months passed without her condition improving significantly; she died on May 19, 1911.
Monet went through a difficult period during which his health became more feverish and during which he alternated between euphoric moments and complete discouragement. He devoted his time to the paintings of Venice and, despite the reticence linked to the quality of his work, exhibited twenty-nine of them at the Bernheim Gallery from May 28 to June 8, 1912. Due to the success of the exhibition, it was extended.
In 1912, the painter was diagnosed with a double cataract. In 1914, he had the pain of losing his son Jean to a long illness.
It was during this period that the idea of creating a set of decorative panels on the theme of the Water Lilies was born. Monet, encouraged by Clemenceau, rediscovered the desire to work in the middle of the World War. In order to achieve his goals, he had a vast studio built during the summer of 1915, specially designed to accommodate these large canvases. He first imagined presenting them in a circular room (a form of presentation envisaged since at least May 1909), then abandoned the idea in favor of an elliptical room. This project occupied him until the end of his life.
In November 1918, he offered Clemenceau two decorative panels that he signed on the 11th, the day of the armistice and the end of the First World War. According to the painter, this was the only way he could take part in the victory.
In November 1919, Clemenceau advised him to have his eyes operated on.
In December of that year, he lost his friend Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Monet had meanwhile become a personality respected by all. His 80th birthday in 1920, thus took on the appearance of a national event that the President of the Council of Ministers Georges Leygues proposed to honor with his presence, in vain.
In April 1922, a notarial deed was signed for the donation of nineteen panels to be delivered within two years. A decree was also published in the Journal Officiel on June 23 of the same year to announce the donation.
Shortly thereafter, the painter”s eyesight deteriorated again. Although his relatives and Clemenceau urged him to have an operation, Monet refused. In May, he could hardly work anymore. All his attempts to start a new painting ended in failure.
After much hesitation, Monet reluctantly accepted the operation on his right eye performed by Dr. Charles Coutela on January 10, 1923. After two other successful operations, Monet could see better but his color perception was altered. In addition to wearing glasses, an operation on his left eye was recommended, but Monet categorically refused.
During this period, he worked tirelessly on the large decorations. As the deadline approached, he thought, on several occasions, that he would not be able to respect it and went back on his word of donation. But Clemenceau was watching and did not hesitate to quarrel with his friend.
For the installation of the large decorations, several possibilities were studied. At first it was thought that they would be displayed at the Hôtel Biron, where the architect Paul Léon was to build a new special structure in the gardens, but finally the decision was made in March 1921 to display them at the Orangerie. The architecture was then entrusted to Camille Lefèvre.
Monet obtained, despite Clemenceau”s reluctance, an additional year for the delivery of the panels. Moreover, the painter regularly changed his work, forcing the architect to constantly review the installation planned for the exhibition.
It was during this period that he painted some of the paintings in the Japanese Bridge series, which shocked the taste of the time.
Weakened by incessant work, Monet contracted a lung infection that confined him to bed in 1926. Stricken with lung cancer, he died on December 5 at around one o”clock in the afternoon.
The nineteen panels are handed over by his son, Michel, to the direction of the Beaux-Arts. Camille Lefèvre completed the installation of the two elliptical rooms under the supervision of Clemenceau. The exhibition opened on May 17, 1927 under the name of Claude Monet Museum.
At the funeral, Clemenceau in an elegant gesture removed the funeral sheet covering the coffin of his friend, crying out: “No! No black for Monet! Black is not a color!”, substituting an “old cretonne with the colors of periwinkles, forget-me-nots and hydrangeas”. Then Clemenceau followed the convoy to the cemetery of the church of Sainte-Radegonde in Giverny where Monet was buried, and collapsed in tears.
The large decorations are installed in the Orangery during the first months of 1927. His son Michel inherited all of Claude”s properties. In 1966, when he died in a car accident, his paintings were left to his universal legatee: the Musée Marmottan.
Claude Monet married on June 28, 1870, in Paris, Camille Doncieux (1847-1879), with whom he had two children:
Claude Monet has no posterity.
He married for the second time on July 16, 1892 Alice Hoschedé (these six children were not born to Claude Monet (except perhaps the last, Jean-Pierre), but he raised them:
Claude Monet moved many times before settling permanently in Giverny. The map on the right shows the main places:
Moreover, Monet traveled a lot to paint. In addition to the stays with his family in Le Havre and its surroundings, he painted in :
Monet also went to Madrid in 1904, but did not paint there.
Working on nature
Monet let the idea spread that he only painted on nature. Thus in April 1880, when a journalist asked to see his studio, he exclaimed: “My studio! But I have never had a studio, I don”t understand that one locks oneself in a room. To draw, yes: to paint, no”. He then points to the Seine, the hills and Vétheuil and says: “This is my studio!
Daniel Wildenstein wishes to re-establish the truth: Monet did indeed finish many of his paintings in his studio, from the Déjeuner sur l”herbe, to all the Cathedrals, the views of London, Venice and the Water Lilies. The construction of studios in 1899 and 1915, attested by photographs and building permits, only confirm the evidence.
Certainly Monet did not work from memory, he used the other paintings in a series to recall the motif in the studio. It seems that he also sometimes uses photographs, as in the case of the London paintings.
A courageous and demanding worker
Monet was very hard-working, often working “like a madman”, or with “tenfold ardor” and in the open air in all weathers, astonishing by his endurance. In Étretat, he did not hesitate to venture with all his equipment down the path of the Jambourg valley, which descends from the cliffs at their feet, to paint from a better angle, and on Belle-Île, he ignored the storm to go to work.
Often this mode of work exhausted him, and Monet alternated between periods of great assiduity and periods of demoralization, when he thought he was “planting everything there”. He generally took advantage of the winter period to rest.
Monet was also eternally dissatisfied. About Les Meules, he said: “The more I go, the more I see that it takes a lot of work to render what I am looking for. Monet sometimes scratched or destroyed his paintings. Thus, on his return to the Pays de Caux after a stay in Paris in early 1882, he scratched two paintings. Particularly at the end of his career, he destroyed many paintings: thirty in 1907. He explained: “I must take care of my reputation as an artist while I can. When I am dead, no one will destroy a single one of my paintings, no matter how bad they are. In this logic, shortly before his death, he had his daughter-in-law Blanche destroy many paintings.
Towards the end of his life his schedule became very regulated, as in London. In 1908, the summer day was divided as follows: the morning and early afternoon, separated by lunch, were occupied by work, as well as the end of the day. From three to five or even six o”clock, Monet takes a break where he receives his guests. The closing of the water lilies is the cause of this break. Working in the evening allows him to capture the effects of the end of the day.
At the beginning of 1893, the construction of the water lily pond corresponds to an increase in Monet”s interest in gardening. Thus, he visited Mr. Varenne, director of the Rouen plant garden. He also bought many plants from the gardeners of Rouen. Monet is certainly more a man of the fields than an intellectual. About gardening, Monet declared: “What is there to say about me? What can there be to say, I ask you, of a man who is interested in nothing in the world but his painting – and also his garden and his flowers?
According to his admirers, Monet did not use sketches or watercolors, which seems to be erroneous since many sketchbooks and preparatory drawings are presented on the site of the Marmottan Museum for the series of “Gare St Lazare”, on the Base-Joconde of the Museums of France for the series “Étretat” or boats and ships, or the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute of Williamstown, which have presented preparatory drawings and pastels. Monet also used photography, which he practiced for the series on London and Venice. For the painter, the first contact with the motif is of primary importance. He takes the brush in hand. “He begins abruptly to cover with patches of color that correspond to the colored spots that the natural scene he sees gives him. From the first session, the canvas must be covered as much as possible on its extent. On a sketched canvas, Monet painted “full paste, without mixing, with four or five colors, juxtaposing or superimposing the raw tones. Monet also gave up the dark bases in 1865. Thus, a study on which Monet had worked once was covered with lines about half a centimeter thick and two centimeters apart, which were intended to fix the appearance of the whole. The next day, back on the spot, he adds to the first sketch and the details are accentuated, the contours become more precise. Thus, on a canvas that has benefited from two sessions, the lines are much closer together and the subject begins to take shape. A painting must be pushed as far as the artist deems necessary, as only he can determine the point at which it is impossible to go further. He also places great importance on details.
His paintings such as Le Bassin aux nymphéas, harmonie verte, or harmonie rose reveal more than 70 000 touches per square meter.
The search for effects
From the time of series, Monet seeks the effects in his paintings. He works on several paintings in parallel. Already in 1885, Maupassant notes that “he would go, followed by children who carried his canvases, five or six canvases representing the same subject at different times and with different effects. He would take them and leave them in turn, following the changes in the sky.” He only works when he has his effect. This method developed over time, for the views of London he painted on more than fifteen canvases in parallel, the twenty-two canvases of the Great Decorations are also painted at the same time.
Boudin was Monet”s first influence in introducing him to landscapes. His friend Johan Barthold Jongkind certainly also influenced his early years. Charles Gleyre later taught him painting in a structured way. The members of the Impressionist group consisting of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro undoubtedly influenced each other, as was the case with his comrade Frédéric Bazille before. It is also known that Claude Monet appreciated the work of Eugène Delacroix. During his trip to London, he saw the works of Turner and John Constable, which certainly had an impact on him. Édouard Manet also exchanged with Monet during his stay in Argenteuil.
Monet”s painting is influenced by Japanese art. He was particularly interested in the prints painted by Hiroshige and Hokusai. In 1875, he produced the Japanese Woman, a painting whose style is in stark contrast to his other works. On February 1, 1893, Monet went to an exhibition organized by Durand-Ruel: it was devoted to prints by Outamaro and Hiroshige. This appointment was of great importance to him because it fitted in perfectly with his artistic development at the same time. His dining room in Giverny is also decorated with Japanese prints. Finally, another series of paintings that denotes the influence of Japan on his art is paradoxically the one with Norwegian landscapes as its subject, especially with views of the Løkke bridge, since this corner of Sandviken reminded him of “a Japanese village”. Mount Kolsås actually “reminded him of Fujiyama”.
Synthesis of his style
Monet wanted to capture reality in “the mobility of its changing lights”. His interest was in the effects of light that change according to the hours and the seasons. The evolution of industry will give Monet a new impetus for his landscapes, it is through urbanization that the genre will be renewed. For example, in 1877 he painted La Gare Saint-Lazare. At that time, these places were considered useful and without aesthetic value. Monet practiced representing landscapes as well as portraits. However, he remains in the perspective of showing the light and restore the first sensations. To do this, he thinks about the staging that could best represent the movement of light. The repetition of the motif is only a pretext for the painter, the represented object is less important than the evolution of the subject during the hours.
Claude Monet had a difficult start to his career financially. If the first years his aunt Lecadre helped him, from 1864, he had to ask Bazille for help. Monet then began to accumulate debts, if only to buy his painting equipment. Mr. Gaudibert came to his aid with his orders, especially in 1868. The arrival in Argenteuil at the end of 1871, marked the beginning of a better financial situation, caused by the inheritance of his father and the dowry of his wife. However, the end of Durand-Ruel”s purchases in 1874 brought a return of financial worries. Rent quickly became a problem and debts accumulated. He owed his survival to the help of Manet, Dr. Bellio, Gustave Caillebotte and Ernest Hoschedé.
In spite of his financial difficulties, Monet was quite a spendthrift. In Argenteuil, he had two servants and a gardener. He also consumed a lot of wine. Finally, a sum of 240 francs to Pleyel and Wolff could represent the acquisition of a musical instrument or the rental of a piano. When they arrived in Vétheuil, the Hoschédés kept their servants despite their bankruptcy.
Monet is used to making his creditors wait. Consequently, bailiffs often came to visit him, sometimes for debts incurred several years before. Thus in 1885, he was threatened with seizure for a case judged in 1875.
In 1879, he depended almost entirely on Caillebotte”s help for his survival. However, the Hoschedés continued to have servants. In Vétheuil too, creditors came and went. In 1881, in spite of the increase in income, Monet could not pay his rent and in December accumulated 2 962 francs. In 1887, he owned shares, which indicated that he was saving. In 1890 he bought the house in Giverny and the following year he lent money to Pisarro, the hard years were behind him.
Thereafter, he experienced a certain gentrification, notably with the purchase of a car. Durand-Ruel sums up by saying that “Monet was always a jouisseur”.
Monet was not always very generous. Thus, in Bordighera, while his host Mr. Moreno invited him to the gardens of his villa, the Moreno gardens, paid the railroad expenses and the restaurant, Monet offered him in exchange… an apple. He was no more generous towards Rollinat or E. Mauquit who welcomed him respectively in Creuse and in Rouen. His friends Boudin or Pissaro are not better off.
It was not until 1910 that he seemed to loosen his purse strings. That year, not only did he donate a Thames at Charing Cross for the flood victims, but he also sold three paintings to the city of Le Havre for 3,000 francs. The donation of large decorations to the State confirms this change of mentality in the painter.
Monet”s character is not always easy. He has a certain reputation of savagery, Clemenceau named him his “old sinister hedgehog”. Claude Monet is certainly capable of generous impulses as well as brutal anger, but he prefers the solution of compromise and balance to extreme positions. He is, in short, a conciliator, a moderate who deliberately leaves the heroic attitudes to others.
He is a bit ungrateful. Thus, during his first participations in the Salon in 1865 and 1866, Monet did not declare Gleyre as his master, although it was recommended. However, the old man, a member of the jury in 1866, was not hard-hearted and defended the former. The main victim of this character trait is, without a doubt, Durand-Ruel who, while he has supported him for many years, often finds himself competing with other art dealers, such as Georges Petit, at the end of 1885 or in 1888. Durand-Ruel was not at all resentful and gave a thousand proofs of devotion, but this did not prevent him from receiving a 75 franc money order in 1897.
He loved good food, his recipe books were published in 1989. We owe him in particular the eggs Orsini.
Claude Monet is exhibited in the largest museums in the world: MoMA, the National Gallery, the Rijksmuseum. Some works are also exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Algiers.
In France, the Marmottan-Monet Museum has the largest public collection of works by Claude Monet. The Musée de l”Orangerie exhibits the large decorations in accordance with the artist”s wishes. The Musée d”Orsay also has an important collection of his paintings.
In the region, the André-Malraux Museum of Modern Art in Le Havre exhibits, among others, the works Winter Sun at Lavacourt, The Parliament of London and a work from the Water Lilies series.
In addition, the house of the painter in Giverny and its garden are preserved and opened to the public by the Claude Monet Foundation.
Claude Monet”s paintings are highly sought after at auction. Relatively few are for sale: in 2004 there were 26 sales, 22 in 2005 and 28 in 2006. Among the known sales, there are :
In 2008, his paintings set two records:
In 2018, a new record is set:
Claude seems to have partially inspired Zola”s 1886 novel L”Œuvre. Marcel Proust was also inspired by Monet”s work and strongly admired the Impressionists. In the novel Jean Santeuil, Claude Monet is mentioned several times, a collector from Rouen buying his paintings, as in Sodom and Gomorrah.
He is also mentioned several times in the novel Aurélien by Louis Aragon (1944 for the second edition), notably when the characters go to Giverny to meet him because Rose Melrose wants him to do her portrait.
Belgian writer Stéphane Lambert has devoted two books to Claude Monet: L”Adieu au paysage : les Nymphéas de Claude Monet (éditions de la Différence, 2008) and Monet, impressions de l”étang (éditions Arléa, 2016).
Other novels referring to the painter:
Adrien Goetz, Intrigue à Giverny : roman, Paris, Grasset, 2 April 2014, 304 p., 21 cm (ISBN 978-2-246-80435-2).
Claude Monet is represented by several of his friends of the impressionist group. Thus Auguste Renoir, painted him three times, Édouard Manet twice at work on his boat-studio, John Singer Sargent twice a portrait in profile and at the edge of a wood at work. Frédéric Bazille, represents him bedridden and wounded or in the studio of Batignolles.
In 2013, the Polysensory Concrete work, L”ARCHE DE MONET, by artist Milène Guermont was acquired by the city of Le Havre and installed in its city hall designed by Auguste Perret. This interactive sculpture emits water sounds when it is touched according to its magnetic field. The artist refers to the painter Claude Monet who created in his boat and also to the first modern concrete object: the boat of the engineer Joseph Lambot.
In 1915, Sacha Guitry presents him among others in the film Ceux de chez nous.
The Monet of the 1873 painting The Seine at Argenteuil inspired the title of the 2001 film Vanilla Sky.
Claude Monet à Giverny, la maison d”Alice, film by Philippe Piguet (52 minutes) produced by Bix Films for France 5 and the Réunion des Musées nationaux.
In 2011, a documentary-drama, entitled Claude Monet: secret gardens in Giverny, is dedicated to him in the program Secrets d”Histoire, presented by Stéphane Bern.
The documentary looks back on his childhood and his career as a painter, while attempting to uncover the secrets of his personality. The reportage paints the portrait of a recalcitrant and sometimes depressive man, far from the quietude of his paintings.
In 1897, Jean-Pierre Hoschedé and Abbé Anatole Toussaint dedicated to him the hybrid species of poppy Papaver ×monetii that they had discovered in his garden in Giverny.
A rose mixed with pink and yellow was dedicated to him by Delbard in 1992, the Claude Monet rose.
Are named in his honor the asteroid (6676) Monet.