Soft wonderful colours and the use of light and shadows is probably how most people would describe the work of Claude Monet, one of the greatest painters of all time. His date of birth was in 1840 in Paris, France. His family owned a grocery business and naturally they expected their clever son to work for them as he became older. Monet had other ideas and he chose to follow his dreams of becoming an artist, much as many individuals do today. Painting and colours intrigued him greatly.
When Monet was only 11, he studied at the Le Havre school of the arts and would sell charcoal caricatures for 10 to 20 French Francs. An artist named Eugene Boudin became a mentor to him and taught him about painting with oils and how to capture outdoor scenes on canvas. Throughout his life, Monet was fascinated with nature and took every advantage to highlight trees, plants, grass, flowers and water in many of his paintings.
After the death of his mother when he was 16, he lived with a widowed aunt who had no children of her own. Monet visited the famous museum, the Louvre, and took paints and materials with him to practice painting. While other artists would copy the works of other great painters, Monet preferred to paint what he viewed from the windows. Even at this early age, he was beginning to discover the style that would redefine how painting was performed.
At the age of 21, he joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry for a seven-year commitment, because he sought adventure. He was stationed in Algeria and became ill with typhoid fever. His aunt was devastated and advised him that she would get him out of the Army but only if he would agree to take an art course at a University. It may be that she was helped in this matter by a famous artist from Holland, Jungkind, who knew of Monet’s talents.
Monet studied with Charles Gleyre during his early adult life. He also would meet and work with other students and artists who were destined for greatness. Among these notables were Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Frederic Bazille and Eduard Manet.
These were the artists who developed new and breathtakingly stunning methods of painting. They created and then perfected how to create the effects of light and shadows with quick brush strokes and broken colours. This new style is known now as Impressionism.