The term 'Impressionism' was taken from the title of one of his paintings called 'Impression, Sunrise.' A critic said his painting created only an impression of a sunrise. Most art critics at the time did not like Monet’s work and instead preferred paintings that showed realistic details.
Caricature of Léon Manchon
Monet’s father wanted him to get into the family grocery business, but from a very young age he was determined to become an artist. He went to art school and at age 15 started making money selling his charcoal drawings. He signed them O. Monet since his first name is Oscar, not Claude.
He didn’t like the art being made at the time, so along with other artists in Paris he began to paint in a completely new Impressionist style.
Wheatstacks (End of Summer)
He noticed how objects looked different depending on the time of day and became blurred at a distance. He experimented with the effect of light, painted with rapid brush strokes and seldom blended colors together. His style captured the “essence” of a scene versus trying to look like a photo.
Women in the Garden
His favorite model was his first wife, Camille. She appears in over 30 of his paintings. In the painting Women in the Garden, she posed for all the female figures that appear.
Camille and a Child in the Garden
Shortly after the birth of their second child, Camille died at the age of 32. Monet later remarried and his second wife, Alice Hoschedé, was supposedly so jealous of Camille that she made him destroy all letters, photos, and mementos of her. Today only one photograph of Camille survives.
San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk
Although Monet became one of the most beloved artists of all time, he was his harshest critic. Monet destroyed as many as 500 of his own paintings, often with a knife. He once said of himself, “My life has been nothing but a failure.
The Houses of Parliament, Sunset
In 1868, Monet attempted to kill himself by jumping into the Seine River to drown. After the birth of his first son, Monet and his family lived in poverty. He was unable to sell his paintings, the French art establishment had rejected him, and his father had cut him off financially.
Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge
Later in his life, however, Monet would become one of the most successful artists who ever lived. He produced a series of water lily paintings like the one pictured here. The lily pond was beside his home in Giverny, France. Although he had a difficult time selling his paintings when he was young, one of his water lily paintings eventually sold for over $43 million.