Monet and His World I have always been interested in the impressionist style of art, especially the work of Claude Monet. When making my book selection I took this under consideration and chose a book written by Raymond Cogniat entitled Monet and His World. This lively illustrated book is written with great detail. Using explanations, illustrations, pictures and paintings, Cogniat helps to illustrate not only the life of Monet, but also the world of Impressionism, art and French society during Monet’s time. You are thrust into the life of this painter and his frame of mind throughout the various stages in his life. Cogniat discusses a vast variety of artistic techniques and movements.
He aids us in understanding Monet’s motives and life behind the paintings I have learned a great deal about impressionism from this books and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in impressionist art. Monet and His World was published in 1966. The majority of the paintings are shown in black and white, which definitely takes away the beauty of them. It also makes us it harder to understand Mount’s techniques of painting without chiaroscuro (using light and shade in pictorial representation). I was lucky enough to acquire a colored picture book of Monet’s paintings called Monet, from the Crown Art Library series.
It provides some basic information about Monet’s life but primarily focuses on explaining each painting in detail. The book opens discussing the early life of Claude Monet. He was born in Paris in the year of 1840 to a family of grocers. He spent most his childhood at Le Havre where he earliest interests in art could be traced to his aunt, Mme Lecadre who was a amateur painter. Monet lead a relatively normal childhood. By the time he was fifteen years of age, Monet had begun his artistic journey.
He discovered his talent in drawing caricatures1, which he even displayed at a local shop. The shop was owned by the painter Boudin, who recognized that Monet’s talent far excelled caricatures. Boudin took the young artist under his wing and he eventually became the boy’s mentor and inspiration. It was from Boudin that Monet received his first artistic training. He began to learn about the fluid qualities of scenery, which would later lead to the creation of impressionism.
Monet’s family did not accept his commitment to art; they wanted him to follow the family trade. He traveled to Paris where he met Pissaro and Courbet. In 1860 he drew an unlucky number from the military lottery. The family could have spared him the experience by paying for a substitute, yet they decided that he needed the “reality check”. He was forced to serve in North Africa for two years, until he fell ill. His family’s hope was crushed, for the trip has strengthened Monet’s bond with nature and art.
He returned home where he continued to paint luminous landscapes with Boudin and his new friend Jongkind. Paris was calling Monet, and he returned there in the fall of 1862. There he joined Gleyre’s studio where he began to take his work more seriously than ever before. At Gleyre’s studio he befriended Renoir, Sisley and Bazille. They had much in common, and upon the closing of the studio in 1863 the four decided to form their own school in the forest of Fontainebleau. There the four young men painted, became one with nature and stood undisturbed by society.
They painted in “plein air,” where the light and wind served as models; this marked the first step toward impressionism. They soon after became acquaintance with Eduoward Manet, a controversial painter whose techniques closely resembled their own. Monet and his friends now had to participate in the struggle of success. They attempted to have their works represented at the Salons with little success. They finally succeeded only to be mocked by the majority of the critics. He and Renoir often worked together on the banks of the Seine, painting in a style that was still unnamed Monet’s personal life was also tumultuous.
He had fell in love with one of his models, Camille Doncieux. She had gotten pregnant and Monet did not have the means to support her nor a a new family. He accepted his aunt’s hospitality and wen to live there with his first born son, Jean Monet,2 who was born in 1867. Camille remained in Paris (they married three years later in 1870). His family still refused to offer him any assistance.
This marked the beginning of a lifestyle which was becoming increasingly transient, culminating in Monet’s move to London in the early 1870’s to avoid involvement in the Franco-Prussian War. Here Monet was exposed to the English masters Constable and Turner. Later, Monet returned to Le Havre where he continued his extensive practice of landscape paintings. In 1872 he settled at Argenteuil3 where he, Jean and Camille lived for six years. Frequently joined by Renoir and other friends from his student days, Monet painted every aspect of life and the world out doors.
Renoir and Manet also moved to Argenteuil. Monet could often be found painting on his Floating Studio4. Here the three men shared their ambition and love of landscape painting. In 1874, Manet, Degas, Czanne, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley and Monet put together the popular exhibition of the ‘Cooperative Society of Artists, Painters, Sculptors and Engravers’ which was unfortunately a disaster. Critics were extremely vicious.
They set out to destroy the lives and self-esteem of the painters. The exhibition characterized a return to financial insecurity for Monet and it was only the intercession of Manet that has allowed Monet and his family to continue their quaint life at Argenteuil. It was here that the label of “Impressionist” was first used. While attempting to offend one of Monet’s painting, Impression: Sunrise5, the critic Charivari termed him an impressionist and later applied the label to the entire group. After some consideration the artists themselves began to embrace this term and use it to describe their movement and their objectives. In 1975 their work was shown at a auction in the Hotel Drouot.
More ridicule was evoked here than at the Salon. Although success seemed miles away, the painters had already acquired a number of affluent patrons. Despite almost constant rejection and financial insecurity, Monet’s paintings never became sullen nor dreary. Instead, Monet immersed himself in the task of perfecting a style which still had not been accepted by the world at large. He began to work on a number of series, starting in 1876 on the Saint-Lazare Railway Station6.
Here he imbued the theme of man and nature being one. He attempted to romanticize the railway through the medium of light. through the following years the impressionist painting began to popularize. The second and third Impressionist exhibits brought more success than the first. Success was now in view and once again, with the help of his friend Manet’s help, he was able to rent a house in the cozy village of Vetheuil.
During that year, in 1878, Camille bore him a second son, Michel Monet. She passed away the following year, in September of 1879, never seeing her husband rise to the height of his potential. The fourth Impressionist exhibition was held later that year; it was the biggest success for the group yet. From here on. it was all uphill.
After do many years of destitution and strife, this partial success led the group to break up, tempting each member to seek the liberty of individual expression. The following exhibition (1880) lacked the title “Impressionist” and the participation of Monet, Sisley, Renoir and Cezanne. The sixth exhibition in 1871 had the same result. Then, in 1882 an attempt of reconciliation was made on behalf of the artists. They participated, yet it was apparent that the audacious stage was over and that impressionism was soundly established in society, the hostility had ended and the paintings were well received. During that year he made his last group exhibition.
Monet spent most his days painting. In 1881 he moved to Poissy with the family of an acquaintance the Hoschedes. The traveled vastly during that time. In 1883 he made his first step toward actual stability when he settled at Giverny, where he would remain for the rest of his life. He had many large one-man shows arranged for him around the world in places such as Berlin, Boston and London.
The popularity of impressionism was progressively expanding. For every insult he had ever incurred he now received praise. In 1892 Monet married Alice Hoschede, with whom he had had an affair during his marriage to Camille. In that year he painted with the realization that every aspect of the scene was altered in accordance with the changing light. This was to become an obsession in his later years.
At last, Monet gained notoriety. He knew several important people and he became financially secure for the first time in his life. He once again began work on several series including the Haystacks7 (1890-1893, Poplars (1890-1891 and the Rouen Cathedrals8 (1892- 1895). With this new found luxury Monet was able to devote himself to gardening which, in turn, provided a motif for the painter’s last important work, the Water Lilies9 series. Monet was absorbed in this project almost exclusively from 1900 until his death.
He continued his traveling throughout Europe. His son Jean married one of Mme. Hoschede’s daughter in 1897. Monet’s eight sight began to deteriorate in 1900 after an accident and would continue throughout the rest of his life due cataracts. His wife parted in the spring of 1911 and his son Jean in the winter of 1914.
Of the great impressionists, Monet lived the longest. He died on September 26, 1926 at Giverny. He watched his friends and acquaintances leave his world, and watched the world take on a significant amount of change. He spent his last years secluded from the world working on a state commission for a water-lillies mural which was to be installed in the basement of the Tuileries Garden. The impressionist had contributed a great deal to society and left a lasting impression on the world of art.
He had reached the heights of his dreams and lead a fulfilling life. Impressionism sought to revitalize artistic vision through the use of colored shadows, the exclusion of black and the use of bright colors. The paintings of Monet also revolve around the fluid qualities of water and light and the importance of speed. It paved the road for many other forms of art, such as Divisionism and Pointillism. It also inspired many other artists, among these are Van Gogh anf Gauguin.
Monet’s vision is alive and well and today. The works of Monet and the other impressionists can be found in Museums worldwide. The once-controversial form of art has become a classic which will continue to be honored as long as water-lillies grace our gardens.