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Claude Monet Biography and Life History

Madhavi Ghare
Claude Monet was the founder of French Impressionist painting. Here we talk about his life history.
Oscar-Claude Monet was born on the 14th of November, 1840 in Paris. His father was called Claude-Adolphe Monet, and his mother, Louise-Justine Aubree Monet. In 1845, his family moved to Le Havre in Normandy.
His father owned a grocery store business and wanted his son to join him. However, Claude wanted to be an artist, and therefore, entered the Le Havre secondary School of Arts in 1851. Monet soon became famous for his charcoal caricatures which sold for 10-20 francs apiece. He then undertook his first drawing lessons from Jacques-Francois Ochard.
In 1856, he met Eugene Boudin who, as his mentor, taught him the technique of using oil paints "en plein air" (outdoors). However, after his mother passed away in 1857, he left school and went to live with his aunt Madame Lecarde.

Claude Monet: Paris

Monet would often travel to Paris to visit The Louvre. There, he would see many painters come and make copies of the works of old masters. However, he would prefer to look out of the window, and paint what he saw. While in Paris he met several painters of the time like Edouard Manet who went on to become another Impressionist Painter.
In 1861, he joined the army, and was sent to Algiers for a seven year commitment. That is where he contracted typhoid.His aunt intervened and suggested he complete an art course at university. But Monet was unhappy with the teachings of traditional art at the universities, and became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris.
There he met painters like Renoir and Bazille, and shared many discussions and experiences about approaches to art, the effects of light on painting, and the techniques of "en plein air".


Claude Monet's painting 'Camille' drew attention to his work in 1866. Later, he went on to marry the woman in that painting, Camille Doncieux, in 1870. With her, he had his first child, Jean in 1967. In 1868, he attempted to commit suicide by throwing himself into the Seine, due to financial problems.
During the Franco-Prussian war, Monet went to England. There, he studied the works of John Constable and Turner. He then moved around to Amsterdam. From 1871 to 1878 he lived at Argentueil where he painted some of his best works.
In 1872, he painted 'Impression: Sunrise' depicting a scene at Le Havre. Art critic Louis Leroy coined the term 'Impressionism' from this name and it stuck.

In 1878, his second child, Michel was born. However, just a year later, Camille died of tuberculosis.
Monet then moved into the house of Ernest Hoschede who was a department store owner, and a patron of the Arts. After Ernest became bankrupt, his wife Alice continued to live in their house in Poissy with Monet. She had six children of her own and helped raise his two sons. When Ernest died, Alice married Monet in 1892.
In 1911, Alice died and in 1914 his son, Jean also passed away. It was at this time, that Monet developed cataracts. In 1923, he had two surgeries for his cataracts. After the surgeries, he re-painted some of his paintings from the time, for they had a redder tinge.


During the 1880s and 1890s, Monet devoted his time to his 'series' paintings. He painted a subject in several light and weather conditions. His famous 'series' paintings are 'Haystacks', 'Rouen Cathedral', 'Poplars', 'Houses of Parliament', 'Mornings on the Seine', 'Weeping Willows', and 'Water lilies' from his home in Giverny.
In the late 1890s and early 1900s he visited the Mediterranean and painted several landscapes and seascapes.
On the 5th of December, 1926, Monet died of lung cancer. He is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. He had asked for a simple ceremony, and so only 50 visitors had attended his funeral. His paintings are popular to this date, and are still selling for millions of dollars.