Oscar-Claude Monet is one of the most popular painters of the late 20th century. Though he did not receive substantial formal training, his desire to break away from traditional art has made him the father of the Impressionist style. His works are known all over the world, identified by their bold colors and fragmented brushstrokes. Behind this master painter, here are the following interesting facts:
1. Monet had an estranged relationship with his father.
- His parents called him Oscar to distinguish him from his father who was also named Claude. He greatly wanted his son to join their family’s grocery and ship supplier business.
- His father did not support his artistic endeavors and was unwilling to financially support him, leading to Monet’s suicide attempt.
2. He was depressed throughout his life.
- Monet spent several years in financial difficulty. Refused by his father during his greatest moment of need, he tried to drown himself in the Seine River.
- He destroyed at most an estimated 500 works due to his bouts of frustration and self-doubt.
3. Outdoor painting was critical in developing his style.
- His mentor was one of the first landscape artists to adopt “plein air” (in full air) painting. This allowed Monet to observe and capture the play of light on natural forms.
- He created series of paintings where he explored the effects of rain, mist, smoke, and steam on landscapes and objects.
4. The term “Impressionism” was actually meant to be derogatory.
- Instead of the realism and color blending seen in classical art, Monet and his group of fellow artists focused on light and painted using defined brushstrokes. Critics saw the artworks more as “bad sketches” than finished paintings.
- A satirical review called the artists who used this style “Impressionists”, coined after Monet’s painting “Impression: Sunrise.”
5. Monet’s favorite model was his first wife, Camille Doncieux.
- She is the subject of around 32 paintings, including the critically acclaimed “Camille (The Woman in the Green Dress)” first seen in the Salon.
- She suffered from tuberculosis during her second pregnancy and was later diagnosed with uterine cancer. Monet painted her one last time as she lay on her deathbed.
6. He suffered from cataracts in his later years.
- Despite his failing vision, Monet spent the last 30 years of his life creating around 250 oil paintings, all in great detail.
- Unable to perceive ultraviolet light, his paintings adopted a reddish tone before he underwent two surgeries to have the cataracts removed.
Though Monet achieved success late in his career and his popularity ebbed after his death, he changed the art of painting by being as bold as his masterpieces. His influence over many future art movements have resurrected his name, making him very popular and well-known even today.
What’s your favorite among Monet’s works? How did his art inspire your work?