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Claude Monet


A prime force among the Impressionists, Claude Monet (1840–1926) remained faithful to the movement’s principles throughout his life. He was a radical in his own time, transforming the way artists saw and interpreted landscape. In the early 20th century his paintings have almost no subject at all and become abstracts.

Monet was born in Paris, but was brought up on the Normandy coast, where he was encouraged to take up landscape painting by Eugène Boudin. He attended the studio of Charles Gleyre, where he met Frédéric Bazille, Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Monet took part in several of the Impressionists’ group exhibitions and was dedicated to painting “sur le motif”, or direct from the subject.

In the 1870s he focused on Paris and its suburbs, working at Argenteuil and Vétheuil, and moving in 1883 to Giverny, where he remained for the rest of his life. In the 1880s he painted on the Normandy coast at Pourville, Fécamp and Etretat, demonstrating a more decorative tendency in his work.

In the 1890s this culminated in his numerous ‘series’ paintings, which were a huge commercial success. In these later works Monet developed a more subjective response to landscape and, although his starting point was always nature, he worked up his canvases in the studio, sometimes even painting from memory. This is most evident in his Mornings on the Seine series and the London and Venice pictures, as well as his final Grandes Décorations for the Orangerie in Paris.