Claude Monet

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Monet, Claude

Monet, Claude (klōd mônāˈ), 1840–1926, French landscape painter, b. Paris. Monet was a founder of impressionism. He adhered to its principles throughout his long career and is considered the most consistently representative painter of the school as well as one of the foremost painters of landscape in the history of art.

As a youth in Le Havre, Monet was encouraged by the marine painter Boudin to paint in the open air, a practice he never forsook. After two years (1860–62) with the army in Algeria, he went to Paris, over parental objections, to study painting. In Paris, Monet formed lasting friendships with the artists who would become the major impressionists, including Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille. He and several of his friends painted for a time out-of-doors in the Barbizon district.

Monet soon began to concern himself with his lifelong objective: portraying the variations of light and atmosphere brought on by changes of hour and season. Rather than copy in the Louvre, the traditional practice of young artists, Monet learned from his friends, from the landscape itself, and from the works of his older contemporaries Manet, Corot, and Courbet. Monet's representation of light was based on his knowledge of the laws of optics as well as his own observations of his subjects. He often showed natural color by breaking it down into its different components as a prism does. Eliminating black and gray from his palette, Monet rejected entirely the academic approach to landscape.

In his later works Monet allowed his vision of light to dissolve the real structures of his subjects. To do this he chose simple matter, making several series of studies of the same object at different times of day or year: haystacks, morning views of the Seine, the Gare Saint-Lazare (1876–78), poplars (begun 1890), the Thames, the celebrated group of Rouen Cathedral (1892–94), and the last great lyrical series of water lilies (1899, and 1904–25), painted in his own garden at Giverny (one version, a vast triptych c.1920; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City).

In 1874 Sisley, Morisot, and Monet organized the first impressionist group show, which was ferociously maligned by the critics, who coined the term impressionism after Monet's Impression: Sunrise, 1872 (Mus. Marmottan, Paris). The show failed financially. However, by 1883 Monet had prospered, and he retired from Paris to his home in Giverny. In the last decade of his life Monet, nearly blind, painted a group of large water lily murals (Nymphéas) for the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.

Monet's work is particularly well represented in the Louvre, the Marmottan (Paris), the National Gallery (London), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. It is also included in many famous private collections.


See biographies by W. C. Seitz (1960) and C. M. Mount (1967); Claude Monet: Life and Art (1995) by P. H. Tucker; studies by J. House (1986), D. Skeggs (1987), M. and J. Guillaud (1989), and R. King (2016).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Monet, Claude


(Claude-Oscar Monet). Born Feb. 14, 1840, in Paris; died Dec. 6, 1926, in Giverny, Normandy. French landscape painter. One of the founders of impressionism.

Monet studied with L. E. Boudin in Le Havre from 1858 to 1859, at the Academic Suisse from 1859 to 1860, and at C. Gleyre’s atelier in Paris from 1862 to 1863. Building on the achievements of the masters of the Barbizon school and of Boudin in plein air painting, from the second half of the 1860’s Monet tried to use plein air techniques to capture changeable effects of light and air and the rich colors of the outdoors (The Picnic, 1866, the A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; La Grenouillere, 1869, the Metropolitan Museum, New York). Beginning in the late 1860’s, he devoted himself exclusively to landscapes, treating the human figure as one of the landscape’s natural elements. In his paintings he tried to achieve the impression of softly vibrating air and of forms enveloped by it by using small, fragmented strokes of pure colors not mixed on the palette. He intended that the colors coalesce when viewed. The landscape was re-created by him as an individual particle of eternal matter quivering with a perpetual inner movement, as if it had been snatched for a moment from the constantly changing stream of life (Boulevard des Capucines, 1873, and Rocks at Belle-Ile, 1886; both in the A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts).

Seeking to capture the protean state of nature and the atmosphere at various times of day and in different kinds of weather, in the 1890’s Monet created several series of paintings, each depicting the same theme (the Haystacks, 1890–91, and Rouen Cathedral, 1893–95). Characteristic of his later works is a trend toward a greater dissolution of the material qualities of the objective world in a quivering, almost unreal environment (London Fog, 1903, the Hermitage, Leningrad), increasing conventional decorativeness, and a deliberately sketchy execution (the Water Lilies, a series of panels, 1914—22; the Orangerie, Paris).


“Pis’ma.” [Translated from French; preface and commentary by N. V. lavorskaia.] In Mastera iskusstva ob iskusstve, vol. 5, book 1. Moscow, 1969. Pages 87–108.


Reutersvärd, O. Klod Mone. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from Swedish.)
K. Mone. [Album of reproductions; author of text and compiler, I. Sapego.] Leningrad, 1969.
Hoschedé, J.-P. Claude Monet, ce mal connu, 2 vols. Geneva, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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