Claude Monet. Lived 1840 – 1926
A founder of the French Impressionist movement, Monet‘s talent was evident from a young age.
Born in Paris in 1840, Monet was often sketching and sold his charcoal caricatures and early oil paintings to locals. He was drafted to serve as a soldier in Algeria; yet refused his father’s offer to pay for his discharge, on the grounds he would have to forgo his passion for painting.
As a struggling artist frustrated with the art establishment, with a group of friends - Renior, Pissarro, Morisot, Cézanne and Degas, they coined the term ‘Impressionism’. Impressionism came from their work looking ‘unfinished’, just giving an impression of the scene. They exhibited their work in 1874, with landscapes of bright, vivid colours and paintings with loose, quick and seemingly spontaneous brushstrokes. These artists were radically different to anything seen before in the art world.
Monet’s water garden began in 1893, when he bought land in Giverny. Remembered as his ‘last obsession’, an arched wooden bridge was built across the narrowest part of the pond, where he had waterlilies imported from Egypt and South America. 17 paintings feature the Japanese-style bridge, and there are over 250 paintings of his Giverny garden, painted with long-handled brushes, for a more fluid, free brushstroke, and to also see how each mark would look from a further distance.