"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”
Friday, the 21st of September 18:30-20:30
Saturday, the 22nd of September 12:00-14:30
Thursday, the 27th of September 15:30-18:00
French impressionist painter Claude Monet (b. 14 November 1840; d. 5 December 1926), leader and foremost practitioner of the impressionist school, was born in Paris but moved to Le Havre; his talents were first spotted when, as a boy, he would sell charcoal caricatures on the streets.
At 16 he was put in touch with the landscape paint Eugene Boudin, who quickly became the young artist's mentor, teaching him the art of oil painting and, crucially, instilling in the teenager the importance of painting directly from nature and en plein (outdoors).
Monet moved to Paris in 1859, enrolling in one of the great Parisian art academies. Yet he soon became disillusioned with the traditional style being taught, so after a brief stint in the army, he entered the studio of Charles Gleyre, where he and Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Jean Bazille would define impressionism.
After several unsuccessful attempts to paint traditionally led to financial hardship, Monet threw himself into the seine in a failed suicide attempt in 1868. A newspaper article reviewing Monet's Impression, Sunrise (1872) which was exhibited in an 1874 group show slated the avant-garde style with the term “Impressionists" and the new movement was christened.
By the late 1880s Monet was finding a wide audience appreciative of his heavy brushstrokes and nameless colour patches. Cézanne himself claimed that Monet had "the most prodigious eye since painting began”.
A one-man exhibition organised by art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel sparked financial success at last for Monet. Having moved in 1883 to a beautiful country house in Giverny, from 1899 he worked almost exclusively on painting the water lilies that floated on the pond his gardens. Over the next two decades his health deteriorated as he slowly lost his sight, and he succumbed to lung cancer in 1926.
Source: The Observer Book of ART by editor Carl Wilkinson, p. 50
“After Corot, Claude Monet is the artist who has made the most inventive and original contribution to landscape painting… Among our landscape painters [he] was the first to have the boldness to go as far as the Japanese in the use of colour… Let us now watch Claude Monet as he takes up his brush. To do so we must accompany him into the fields and face being burnt by the blazing sun, or we must stand with him knee-deep in snow — for despite the season he leaves his studio and works outdoors, under the open sky.” Théodore Duret, 1880
Of all Monet's works it is perhaps his effets de neige that most immediately and specifically evoke his known admiration for Japanese prints. It may be simply that certain aspects of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts — their striking compositions, simplified contours, vivid colour, and the immediacy with which they suggest nature in every aspect of every season of the year — find no counterpart in Western painting before Monet. It may also be that the world described by the Japanese artists is the world of everyday life, not symbolic, anecdotal, or burdened with social or political commentary but simply observed. In these observations, no season, no time of day, no aspect of human experience or the natural world went unnoticed.