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Claude Monet

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Claude Monet

Claude Monet was, perhaps, the most driven and influential of all of the Impressionists. When he was still little more than a boy, Monet began drawing caricatures which he sold for a nominal fee at the local art store. It was only after Monet’s work was praised by Boudin, a prominent artist at the time, that he heavily considered painting as a career. It wasn’t long after than Monet moved to Paris, the heart of the artistic world.

Claude Monet was, perhaps, the most driven and influential of all of the Impressionists. When he was still little more than a boy, Monet began drawing caricatures which he sold for a nominal fee at the local art store. It was only after Monet’s work was praised by Boudin, a prominent artist at the time, that he heavily considered painting as a career. It wasn’t long after than Monet moved to Paris, the heart of the artistic world.

Within a decade Monet had moved away from the early caricatures that provided little more than pocket money and, along with Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Frederick Bazille had begun a brand new artistic technique called Impressionism. Impressionism captures a single moment in time, much the way a camera would. This is done with paint mainly by using light. The play of sunlight shining through the trees or glinting off ocean waves that, in just a breath’s time, would change and never again be seen in that exact way. No one produces this aspect better than Monet. His painting Coming into Port-Goulphar, Belle-Ile is a sea scape in the Impressionist style. Sunlight glints off the waves as they roll gentle towards the shoreline. The cliff side and rocks are half hidden in the shadows created by their own craggy outcroppings combined with the natural angle of the sun.

Monet did paint people, though the vast majority of his paintings are landscapes of different varieties. Individuals in the paintings were usually not overly emphasized, the overall scene having more importance than a single individual. The one person who crops up in his works again and again is his wife, Camille. At first she was simply his model, posing in costume for various scenes Monet had wanted to paint. Eventually they became lovers, had a child, and then married. Again and again we see Camille in Monet’s paintings, sometimes at a distance as in Woman with a Red Scarf where we see her looking in at us from outside of a window. Other times she is part of a crowd as in The Picnic. In this painting not only is Camille amongst a group of other individuals, but Camille posed multiple times in different costumes. This way Monet saved a great deal of money by only having one model instead of many. The man portrayed is his fellow painter Bazille, who was none too thrilled with the idea of being on the other side of the canvas, but was a good sport about it anyway.

Monet was, perhaps, the greatest driving force behind Impressionism. His extra push behind the scenes for the Impressionist’s to break away from the safe ideals of the Academie in Paris and keep pursuing this new vision of art if could have easily suffered a premature death at the hands of the academic art community who were vehemently against the small group of artists whose artistic ideals were so very different from their own. Monet’s enthusiasm and sometimes nagging of his fellow artists to not give in but to continue their artistic dream, not only was Impressionism born but the seeds that would grow to become modern art were planted.