Claude Monet

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By Jane Oh

The De Young Museum, located in San Francisco, will be displaying the famous paintings of Claude Monet. The show will last from February 16 to May 27 and will display some of Monet’s best, most iconic work, including his paintings of the waterlily garden. Monet’s expressive brushstrokes and lively color were extremely significant to the Impressionism art movement. His artwork forever impacted the history of art and continues to inspire artists today.

Oscar-Claude Monet was born in France on November 14, 1840. As a child, Monet did not enjoy school, but loved to draw throughout grade school, even though his father wished for him to pursue a job as a grocer. When Monet’s mother, Louise Justine Aubree Monet, died on January 28, 1857, Monet quit school to live with his aunt. His aunt, also a painter, helped and encouraged Monet to fulfill his dream of becoming an artist.

In 1858, aged 18, Monet moved to Paris to study at an art school. Unfortunately, Monet did not enjoy the school, as they taught realism and mostly painted indoors, unlike Monet, who enjoyed to paint outdoors. While attending the art school, he became friends with other painters in Paris such as Auguste Renoir, Fredric Bazille, and Alfred Sisly. They all shared the common passion of painting outdoors and went on trips together to paint outside of Paris, despite being poor.

In Paris, a painting show known as The Salon took place, in which accepted painters were able to successfully sell their art. The Salon believed objects should be painted realistically with exact detail, and their ideal paintings often had musty, muted tones of color. Monet and his friends did the exact opposite: they painted in a new style which included bright, vibrant colors and visible, expressive brushstrokes. Although The Salon immediately rejected their paintings, Monet and his friends persevered and continued to paint with the new style.

By 1963, The Salon had rejected several great works of art, which inspired Monet and other artists to set up a new show called the Salon de Refusés, which translates to The Reject’s Show in english. Monet held another art show in 1874, in which the displayed his painting Impressionism, Sunrise. This painting would become very important to art, as it was the beginning of Impressionism, an art style of painting that captured moments with rapid brushstrokes and vibrant colors. However, at the time, people attended the shows as a joke, as they ridiculed the artists work and never took the paintings seriously, as they were viewed as unfinished and sloppy.

Throughout the process of painting for art shows, Monet married Camille Donciuex in 1870. Camille was a model for many paintings by Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Eduard Manet, often posing as the figure of a woman. She would eventually birth two sons with Monet, Jean and Michel.

Despite struggling financially to support his family and paint at the same time, Monet managed to accomplish approximately 300 paintings in one year. His artwork often had visible brushstrokes of oil paint that captured the light and color of an outdoor scenery, such as Pointe de la Héve at Low Tide or Women in the Garden at Ville d’Avray or La Grenouillére.

Then, in 1879, Camille died, aged only 32, for an unknown illness. Monet continued to paint in grief and depression. His paintings following Camille’s death are in muted, grey tones that reflected his mood at the time.

Camille on her Deathbed


Despite facing the difficulties of his wife’s death, Monet persevered and never stopped painting. By 1880, his paintings were beginning to sell more often, as people started to take the Impressionist style more seriously. Monet began to take trips to other places in Europe, such as Italy, with his friend Auguste Renoir, and painted different outdoor scenery. He started using bright colors such as pink, turquoise, and orange instead of the grey tones from his period of grief.

Villas à Bordighera

Very quickly, Monet’s art career began to proliferate with success. Many people were starting to like his paintings and his paintings were easily sold. In 1890, Monet was able to buy and move into a house in Giverny, France and remarried to Alice Hoschedes. For the next several years, Monet would live happily in his home. He tired workers to help in his home, especially with his large backyard garden, which was overflowing with lush plants and flowers and a waterlily pond.

It was at this time, during his 60s, that Monet began to paint his waterlily pond, eventually producing one of his most iconic and well-remembered works of art: Water Lily Pond.

At the age of 68, Monet was slowly losing his eyesight. In 1911, his second wife, Alice, passed away. Despite struggling through a difficult time, Monet managed to receive an eye operation in 1923, and, with glasses, he was able to see a little again, which allowed him to paint easily again.

In the last years of his life, Monet created beautiful paintings known as his Decorations, which were large paintings of his waterlily garden.

Waterlilies: Morning with Weeping Willows

On December 5, 1926, aged 86, Claude Monet passed away. In his entire lifetime, Monet painted over 2,000 paintings. Despite the facing constant rejection and loss, Monet persevered and always turned to his passion: painting. His artworks of life and nature were painted with vibrant colors and expressive brushstrokes. Monet captured a moment’s meaningful emotion and valuable beauty, something much more significant and deep than the realistic, logistical representation in realism art. He allowed people to open up and appreciate the little, overlooked parts of life, from cold mornings at the train station to lively garden parties to all the beautiful colors seen only in nature.

De Young Museum Ticket Link: Monet Exhibit