Table of contents:

Claude Monet. An Artist Who Paints Light - Great And Terrible
Claude Monet. An Artist Who Paints Light - Great And Terrible

Video: Claude Monet. An Artist Who Paints Light - Great And Terrible

Video: Claude Monet. An Artist Who Paints Light - Great And Terrible
Video: Tom Keating On Painters - Beginnings of Impressionism 2023, March

Claude Monet. Self-portrait. 1886

Claude Monet (1840-1926) - French painter and one of the founders of Impressionism. Art historians admit that the name of his painting “Impression. Sunrise "was the designation of this famous trend in painting (in French" Impression "-" L'impression ").

Claude Monet Impression. Sunrise
Claude Monet Impression. Sunrise

Impression. Sunrise. 1872

Instead of a school - the seashore

The childhood of the future genius, like that of many, was peculiar and - contrary to all pedagogical principles - did not promise him future world fame. Claude grew up a freedom-loving vagabond, spending more time on the coastal cliffs by the sea than in class.

Moreover, recalling these years, he declared: "The college really always seemed to me a prison … Yes, I was not hearing from birth, and even in early childhood no one was able to teach me to discipline." Undoubtedly, the boy was a negligent student, and modern teachers would have brought him into the Risk Group magazine in the “difficult child” column.

The French historian Michel de Decker writes in his biography of Monet that “he did not sit still for a minute, easily quarreled, behaved insolently, ran away whenever and wherever he wanted, and often shut himself up for a long time, keeping a gloomy silence. He did not differ in talkativeness and willingly put on a frowning look … Well, what, but Claude Monet knew how to quarrel - you can not attribute him to people with an easy character”(M. Decker, 2007).

We see that the adolescent's emotional instability clearly spilled over into the normal "transitional age".


Cyclothymia, which with age passed into pronounced depressive and dysphoric states. Workaholism as part of a morbid psychological addiction.

Buy a painting, inexpensive

Instead of letters and numbers, Claude liked to draw cartoons of teachers or acquaintances in a notebook, and at the age of 15 he shocked his family by starting to sell his "art" to everyone. Contrary to the wishes of his parents, who succumbed to the insistence of the painting teacher, in 1860 his son was allowed to go to Paris, where he entered the Charles Suisse Academy (a private art school).

However, the very next year he was drafted into the army, in which Monet served as a cavalryman in Algeria. In the summer of 1862, he fell ill with a fever, was discharged and returned to Paris, where he continued his painting studies. Already at this time, Claude Monet set himself the goal of "investigating color changes depending on illumination" (Komarova I. I., Zheleznova N. L., 2000).

The tragedy of first love

Fate briefly smiled at the artist in 1865, when the aspiring genius met 17-year-old Camilla-Leonia Donsier, the daughter of a wealthy bourgeois. The charming girl often served as a model for the painter. But family life began very dramatically.

Claude Monet
Claude Monet

Claude Monet. Photo: A. Greiner. Amsterdam. 1871

“His parents agreed to give him shelter at his aunt's house in Saint-Adresse, but they demanded a break with Camilla. Finding no other way out, Monet leaves, temporarily leaves his wife, who was soon to have a child, almost without means … The artist was close to suicide”(Samin DK, 2006).

After the birth of a son in 1868, the family's financial situation deteriorated to a critical one. His fellow artists - Edouard Manet and Auguste Renoir - helped him with money and, as best they could, saved him from the bailiffs.

“Having lived the winter in an unheated Parisian apartment, Claude and his family moved to the country” (Sklyarenko VM et al., 2002).

Father of many children penniless

It is difficult for any artist to live without outside help until he reaches significant fame. And popularity in this kind of profession is not born quickly. “My relatives don't want to do anything for me anymore. I don’t know where I’ll sleep tomorrow …”This letter was written in 1868. The biographer suggests that Monet attempted suicide the night before.

“Tired of endless failures, he supposedly wanted to drown himself” (M. de Decker, 2007). But in the next year, 1869, Monet continues to complain: "For the last week … I had no bread, no wine, no fire in the kitchen, no light." He sometimes had nothing to buy even paints with, and during the exhibition bailiffs confiscated four of his works on account of numerous debts.

In subsequent years, he often had to sell his canvases for as little as 20 francs, while a blank canvas cost four. Note that Claude Monet sold his first school cartoons for the same 20 francs.

In 1870, Monet registered a marriage with Camilla and the inheritance she received helped them to live relatively well in material terms for the next few years. At this time, the artist began a serious affair with his friend's wife, Alice Oshede, who bore him a son. And a year later, his own wife gave birth to Claude's second son.

Unpretentious wallpaper design

But falling in love and romantic passions did not prevent the hardworking painter from improving his artistic skills: he actively participated in exhibitions and opening days. And in 1880 he received a personal exhibition of his paintings. But Monet did not immediately secure full critical acclaim.

According to Ross King, a writer and biographer living in England, who studied the correspondence and all publications about the painter, "one of Monet's landscapes received a downright derogatory response:" The most unpretentious wallpapers are more skillfully painted. " In April 1883, when he moved to the village, some reviewer said that his art was simply incomprehensible to the public”(King R., 2018).

In 1879, his wife Camilla died. Her death shocked Claude, who felt guilty before her, and negatively affected his work. “He fell into a severe depression. Life has failed, everything has lost its meaning. The worst thing is that he lost all desire to work”(Decker M. de, 2007). But gradually experiencing depression and thanks to the cares of Alice Hoschedé, Claude Monet returned to painting.

Threatened by blindness

Over the years, the artist became more introverted: Monet “less and less loved gathering of people, moving, public events, and indeed Paris in general. It is not without reason that he called himself a casanier - a couch potato”(King R., 2018). A character trait such as a lack of interest in new technologies - photography and cinema - is striking, which is surprising and even paradoxical for a person obsessed with the idea of "instantaneous visual impression".

I tried to do the impossible - draw the light itself

Claude Monet

Somatic diseases were also aggravated, among which, of course, deteriorating vision was of particular concern. “In 1912, doctors diagnosed him with double cataract. She especially strongly affected the right eye”(Decker M. de, 2007). An aging and increasingly anxious Monet, who lived under the threat of blindness, had frequent bouts of irritable depression. Relatives often held him back so that he would not trample on the picture he had just drawn, for the reason that it “failed”.

You can't save - destroy

Claude Monet
Claude Monet

Claude Monet at Giverny. Photo: J.-E. Bulloz. 1905

Claude Monet truly set himself an "impossible mission", which, however, he fulfilled brilliantly. In one day, the painter “could work on fifteen paintings! We can see on them a gray haystack in the early morning, a pink six o'clock haystack, a yellow eleven o'clock, blue at two o'clock, purple at four, red at eight in the evening, and so on … canvases - here to fix an aquatic plant, to attribute there another blossoming nymphaea flower”(Decker M. de, 2007).

Monet dealt with paintings that were “unsuccessful” in color in the most barbaric ways: “he cut with a penknife, trampled, thrown to the ground or punched through with his foot … Or he locked himself in the bedroom for several days, refused food and rejected any attempts to console him … those who saw his torment and suffering as a side effect of genius - the syndrome of striving for excellence. " Others were convinced that the creator must “suffer. You cannot indulge in complacency … If an artist cuts his canvases, cries, falls into a rage in front of his work, he will achieve something”(King R., 2018).

All the colors of the rainbow of workaholism

Claude Monet worked “as if it were a run-of-the-mill - pictures appeared one after another with amazing speed. After two months in Venice in 1908, he had thirty-five things ready, that is, every two days a new canvas was ready … "In those cases when there was no time left for all sorts of" banal needs "in the process of continuous creativity, the village the barber was invited directly to the artist, and he cut off "the master's shit while he was painting."

After eye surgery in 1923, Claude Monet began to see colors unusually intense and saturated, he admired the "incredibly beautiful rainbow". But some authors believe that having lost the lens in his left eye, he began to see ultraviolet light as blue or purple, which is why his paintings acquired new colors.

Monet water lilies 1926
Monet water lilies 1926

Water lilies. 1926

For example, painting the famous "Water Lilies", Monet saw the flowers bluish in the ultraviolet range, unlike ordinary people for whom they were just white. But even suspecting about his visual defect, Claude Monet stubbornly repeated: “I will paint even blind, like Beethoven, who composed music being absolutely deaf” (Sklyarenko V. M. et al., 2002).


  • Decker M. de. Claude Monet / Per. with fr. E. V. Golovina. - M.: Molodaya gvardiya, 2007.-- 309 p.
  • King R. Enchanting madness. Claude Monet and water lilies / Per. from English. A. Glebovskaya, A. Zakharevich. - SPb: Azbuka, Azbuka-Atticus, 2018.-- 496 p.
  • Komarova I. I., Zheleznova N. L. Artists. M.: RIPOL CLASSIC, 2000.-- 640 p.
  • Samin D. K. 100 great artists. M.: Veche, 2006.-- 480 p.
  • Sklyarenko V. M., Iovleva T. V., Rudycheva I. A. 100 famous artists, XIX – XX centuries. Kharkov: Folio, 2002.-- 511 p.

Popular by topic