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Claude Monet: Biography and Art Contribution Essay


Oscar Claude Monet was a French artist born in 1840 in Paris, France. His parents, Aubree Monet and Adolphe Monet, belonged to the second generation of Parisians. At the age of five, they moved to Le Harve where Oscar first expressed his interests of being an artist (Giverny, 2009). At the age of 11, he joined an art school and began to develop his art career until he became a professional artist, who left a legacy in the world of art. Claude Monet is renowned for spearheading the movement of impressionism in France (Ganz & Kendall, 2007).

He founded the French impressionist painting and was among the people who pushed for the philosophy of the movement. The name of this philosophy was taken from a title of one of Monet’s paintings, Impression soleil levant, during an exhibition in 1874. Impressionists express their individual view before nature and the concept is mainly applied during landscape painting. Some of Monet’s famous pieces of painting include the The Beach in Pourville, Le Basin Aux Nympheas, La Grenouillere, Women in the Garden, and Impression Soleil Levant (Ganz & Kendall, 2007).

Education and Work

Claude Monet started school at the age of 11 when he joined an art school in Le Havre. It was during his school period when he met Eugine Boudin, his mentor, who encouraged him to start painting landscapes using oil paint. In 1859, he joined the Academie Suisse to further his studies in art. There he met Camille Pissaro as a fellow student. Camille was his first wife and she bore him two children (Gunderson, 2008). She also contributed to his works by posing as a model in some of his paintings. Claude Monet started working in 1860 when he moved to Africa to serve as a conscript in Algeria. This was supposed to be a seven-year commitment but two years later he contracted typhoid and was forced to leave the army. However, he only agreed to leave on a condition that he would go back to art school and complete his studies. In 1862, he returned to France where he met other artists who inspired him (Ganz & Kendall, 2007).

Style of Art: Impressionism

His style of painting was dubbed “impressionism”. This was a 19th century movement that started in France (Ganz & Kendall, 2007). This body of art is characterized by unusual visual angles, inclusion of individual perception and experience, ordinary subject matter, depiction of the changing quality of light, open composition, and clear brush strokes. Impressionism is also characterized by certain techniques. Painting is done fast with thick short strokes in order to capture the essence of a subject and not its details (Howard, 2007). There is a sense of vibrancy on the surface created by the technique of applying color. It is done side by side to create the feeling of vibrancy. Black paint is avoided because impressionists usually mix complementary colors in order to produce dark tones.

The content and composition of painting are also notable variables in Claude’s works and the works of other impressionists. Traditionally, painters would ensure there is a clear distinction between the subject and the background (Ganz & Kendall, 2007). However, for impressionists, the distinction is a bit relaxed. They would always try to create a representation of a larger reality within their paintings. Most of the paintings resemble a snapshot captured by camera (Clancy, 2003). The development of photography posed a major challenge to artists. As a result, impressionists developed their movement in a response to this challenge.

Photography inspired artists to do something different from what it presented (Ganz & Kendall, 2007). To impressionists, photography was a representation of the exact reality. Therefore, they sought to have something different for their style of art. They decided to express their individual view of nature instead of bringing out an exact representation of reality in their paintings. During this period, photography lacked aspects, such as color, making impressionists exploit color in their work (Howard, 2007).


In 1866, he painted the famous La femme a la robe Verte. This work brought him a lot of recognition. It was also among the few paintings that featured his wife. At that time, they were planning to get married. In 1868, after their marriage, Camille modeled for the most famous painting Women in the Garden. She also modeled for several other paintings that became hallmarks of Claude’s work (Ganz & Kendall, 2007).

One of his paintings, Impression Soleil Levant, was used to refer to the movement by a critic of impressionism during an exhibition in 1874. It was at this exhibition that his style of painting was thought to be born (Gunderson, 2008). In the 1880s, Monet traversed all over his home country painting various landscapes, which led to an increase in his popularity and he became known as the greatest artist among the impressionists of his time. Among his famous painting of this period was the Bordighera (Ganz & Kendall, 2007). He also travelled to other parts of Europe including Italy and Britain.

Early influence

Early influences of Claude Monet included famous artists such as Eugene Boudin. Monet and Eugene met in Le Havre where he introduced Claude to landscape painting. Since Eugene had a stationer, they could sell some of their work at the shop. In his own words, Monet spoke of Boudin as the one who helped him open up his painting destiny. He said that Boudin helped him open his eyes and understand nature (Gunderson, 2008). In 1859, after his mother unsuccessfully applied for a government scholarship to further his studies, Monet moved to Paris to interact with established painters and receive guidance from them. During this trip, he met Constant Troyon and Amand Goutier who encouraged him to draw. He also saw the works of such artists as Theodore Rousseau, Eugene Delacriox, and Charles Francois (Howard, 2007).

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 forced him to move to London temporarily with his family. After the war, he returned to France and settled at Argenteuil, a place that attracted majority of the French landscape painters and impressionists. Impressionists are known to embrace nature and to express themselves in nature. Monet used to express the changes in weather conditions and the impact of light in his landscape paintings (Clancy, 2003).


In addition to his mentors and influencers, he was mainly motivated by the desire to break from traditional practices of painting. He used color to express the impressionist style of art, something that lacked in the early styles. He was also motivated to spearhead the movement of impressionism to avoid the restrictions of marketing the work (Giverny, 2009). Traditionally, painters were only expected to market their work at the Salons and using the jury system. They got professional outlets outside the jury system to showcase and sell their works. The major themes that were evident in Monet’s work included lighting in nature, haystack, churches, water, gardens, bridges, and water lilies.


I chose to write about Claude Monet because of his influence and role in leading a movement of artists at a time of intense opposition against anyone who did not support traditional practices of art. He started a new style that set the pace for modern art. His influence is widely known compared to the influence of those who opposed impressionism. His paintings are 3D with a perspective that is quite modern. His entire work is done in three-dimension and drawn in many perspectives, which leave a viewer with the exact sense of reality. His paintings use multiple artistic styles that leave one to develop or speculate on the true interpretation of its meaning.

There is a general appealing in his work that draws someone to it. The energy that is used to do the painting can be felt from the a mere view. The use of color is the most relevant design element in his work. Analysts have argued that paintings were an expression of his life that emerged from his love for nature. His later works were mainly focused on landscapes, seascapes and his travel adventures. It is not surprising that he had a beautiful garden where his wife could model for some of his paintings. According to Monet, he described his paintings as an illustration of himself with the nature.


Clancy, J. (2003). Impresionism: the historical overview and bibloigraphy. New York: Nova Publishers.

Ganz, J. A., & Kendall, R. (2007). The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawing. London: Royal Academy of Arts.

Giverny. (2009). . Web.

Gunderson, J. (2008). Impressionism. London: The Creative Company.

Howard, M. (2007). The Treasures of Monet. Paris: Musée Marmottan Monet.

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