Monetby Sophie Fourney-Dargere
Founding master of the Impressionist movement, Monet knew that painting would be his life work from an early age. He arrived in Paris at a time of cultural and artistic ferment. He was soon studying painting in Gleyre's studio where he befriended Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Disillusioned with the stale, calcified academic style of painting they began to explore different avenues, painting outdoors, lightening their palette, and seeking to capture the transient effects of air, water, and light.
Joining Monet and Renoir in the beginnings of the Impressionist movement, were Sisley, Pissaro, and Berthe Morisot, among others. The outcry from critics and the public after a group show in 1874 was deafening. As with other earlier artistic revolutions, the leading figures found themselves in advance of their time and had to, in effect, create their own audience.
Monet's paintings of this period form Argenteuil and the train stations of Paris are among his best known and most admired. Soon, however, he would move beyond the somewhat limiting esthetics of Impressionism.
The artistic goal that Monet set himself was to capture the ever-changing effects of water and light and chart their changes over the course of time. In service of this aim, he invented a new form, that of the series painting. In his paintings of the cathedral at Rougen, he created a kind of history of light, by painting the same structure in different seasons and at different times of the day.
The later years of his life though plagued with incipient blindness and family tragedies, were still ones of immense creativity. In 1883 he had moved to Giverny. Here with his second wife Alice Hoschede, he devoted himself to gardening and painting. And here the famous Waterlilly paintings were born.
Monet's devotion to his artistic work never wavered. At the end of his life he was to say of himself: "I am good at only two things: painting and gardening."
- Konecky, William S. Associates, Inc.
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