Claude Monet was and still is one of the most famous artists in the world. He painted for money, but he also liked to paint for the joy of it. If you go to a museum you may see that most of his paintings are scenes of water or nature. This is because he liked the way the outdoors looked in different seasons, in different light.
Claude Monet was born in Paris, France in 1840. When Claude was five years old, his family moved to Le Havre, on the northern coast of France. He was one of the painters who invented Impressionism. Impressionism is a style of painting in which artists use dabs of color to show how a scene or object looks and how the light falls.
Monet liked to paint water. He liked the way colors reflected in the water. Boats, oceans, and lakes were some of his favorite subjects. He liked it so much that he fixed up a boat as a floating studio. Monet kept paints, brushes, canvas, and drawing supplies on his boat. In school, Monet didn't do very well. He had said, "School seemed like a prison and I could never bear to stay there, especially when the sunshine beckoned and the sea was smooth." He always drew funny caricatures of his teachers. He always got in trouble for his drawings, but he became very good at them.
At the age of nineteen, Claude had to join the army. He was sent to Algeria, a country in northern Africa. He liked the way the bright clear light of Algeria lit the sky. Claude also liked the way the shadows moved when the wind blew. A year later Claude became very ill with typhoid fever and returned to France to recover.
An artist called Eugene Boudin liked Monet's work. He told Monet that he should paint outside "That way you can feel what you paint."
Even though Mr. Monet painted outside, he never said it was easy. Almost every time he painted outside, something got stuck to the wet paint. If he was in the desert, sand and rock would get stuck to his paintings. In the forest, leaves and other things would stick to Monet's work.
One way Monet made money way by selling his paintings in art museums. One of the most famous museums in the world was the great Salon in Paris. Most f Monet's paintings made it into the salon, but some of them did not make it, for example, the Women in the Garden. The painting, the Women in the Garden was made with Monet's favorite model. Her name was Camille. Claude and Camille fell in love and got married a few years after the painting was finished. They soon had a son named Jean.Monet and his friends were interested in how pretty objects looked when the sunlight reflected on them. A newspaperman called these artists "Impressionists." He came up with the name from Monet's painting Impression: Sunrise. The newspaperman did not like Impressionism. He thought it looked unfinished.
Often, Monet painted many pictures of the same things. He wanted to know how something would look in the different times of the day or different seasons of the year. He tried to make colors, shadows, and light in his paintings as real as possible. The exciting brush strokes and colors in Monet's paintings give the feeling of being right there at the moment he made the painting. He spent the last ten years of his life painting scenes of his water garden. These paintings are among the most beautiful and famous paintings he did. Some of them are over forty feet wide. Some examples are Water Lilies, Panel of Water Lily Decorations, Snow at Argenteuil, and Venice the Grand Canal.
Before he painted scenes of his water garden, he had said, "What I need most of all are flowers, always, always." In 1879 his wife Camille died. Monet remarried to a woman named Alice. Several years later, Alice and his son Jean died as well. When Claude was sixty-eight, he began to go blind. This didn't stop him from painting. Because of his blindness, his paintings were very blurry. He continued to paint until he died in 1926 at the age of 86. Over Claude Monet's life, he accomplished many goals. Mostly, he painted what he felt. If you see one of his paintings, you will probably be thinking about Claude Monet's life and why he painted a particular object.
You can find most of his paintings at these museums:
Malam, John. Tell Me About Claude Monet. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1998.
Venezia, Mike. Monet. Chicago: Children's Press, 1993.