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【The Light-Chasing Painter】 – Claude Monet

Painting with the 「Heart」 - Monet


Claude Monet (November 14, 1840 – December 5, 1926) was a representative French painter of the Impressionist movement. His iconic work "Impression, Sunrise" (1872) inspired the name of Impressionism.

Claude Monet, born in Paris in 1840, moved with his family to the seaside town of Le Havre in his early years. In this tranquil town, he met the landscape painter Eugène Boudin, marking the beginning of his artistic journey. At that time, most painters preferred to work in studios, but Boudin took Monet outdoors to experience the natural light and colors. This experience inspired Monet to become a painter who could capture light, earning him the title "Painter of Light."


At the age of eighteen, Monet went to Paris to formally study painting. In Paris, he met many like-minded friends, becoming especially close with Auguste Renoir. Renoir created the iconic Impressionist style using the division of color. Together, they depicted the emerging entertainment scene at La Grenouillère along the Seine River.


Despite the hardships of life, Monet continued to create. His partner, Camille, was always by his side, providing steadfast support. At thirty, Monet married Camille. With the introduction of Édouard Manet, they rented a house in the suburbs of Paris and lived a happy life. With the support of friends, Monet's financial situation gradually improved. However, the global economic panic of 1873 brought drastic changes to his life.


Determined to resist the conservative Salon system, Monet decided to hold his own group exhibition, tirelessly working to attract participants. Besides Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, and Edgar Degas, Boudin, who had guided Monet into painting, was also invited to participate. Although the Salon favorite Manet repeatedly declined the invitation, Monet still held the "First Impressionist Exhibition" in 1874 with about thirty friends. His exhibit, "Impression, Sunrise," received harsh criticism but laid the foundation for the term "Impressionism."


The Impressionist exhibitions were held annually, with Monet continually submitting new works. As his paintings gradually sold, his financial situation improved. In the second Impressionist exhibition, Monet's "Woman with a Parasol" depicted Camille, veiled and looking back at him, accompanied by their eldest son, Jean. Tragically, Camille passed away in 1879 at the age of 32, when Monet was 39.


The Impressionist exhibitions continued until 1886, with eight exhibitions in total. As the exhibitions gained fame, the authority of the Salon declined, and art dealers began organizing solo exhibitions. In 1880, Monet held his first solo exhibition, and his paintings started to gain widespread popularity, leading to a prosperous life. He built a new home in the village of Giverny, creating a Japanese-style garden. At 52, he married Alice, who had taken care of his children, and began creating his series of Water Lilies paintings.


At 68, Monet's vision began to deteriorate, yet he continued to paint. Despite doctors advising him to stop painting, after surgery slightly restored his vision, he picked up his brush once more. After the deaths of his wife Alice and his eldest son Jean, Monet persevered in his creative efforts alone. By the time he completed twelve "Water Lilies" paintings, he was 83. Three years later, at the age of 86, Monet passed away peacefully.


Cataracts not only impaired Monet's vision but also robbed him of his perception of color. As his ability to perceive blue diminished, Monet's world took on yellow and reddish-brown tones. In his later years, Monet created more abstract and intensely colored works to express his inner emotions. He painted with his "mind's eye," creating a beautiful world only he could see, leaving behind countless immortal masterpieces.

Water Lilies - Monet
Water Lilies
Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) Title: Water Lilies Year of Creation: 1916 Medium: Oil on canvas Dimensions: 200.5 x 201 cm

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