Claude Monet forever changed French painting in the second half of the 19th century.

Throughout his career, he showcased leisure and landscape activities of Paris, the Normandy coast, and other areas.

Impressionism is a significant movement in painting and music. It was primarily developed in France during the late 19th century and early 20th century. A group of artists who shared similar techniques and approaches created Impressionist paintings between 1867 and 1886. 

Water Lilies. Date: 1906. Artist: Claude Monet. French, 1840-1926. The Art Institute of Chicago. Art in the public domain.

The most apparent characteristic of Impressionist paintings was an attempt to truthfully and objectively create visual reality through the use of transient effects of color and light. Claude Monet was a famous French painter whose artworks reflected the art of the Impressionism Movement, which captured natural and light forms. 

The major Impressionist painters included Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Armand Guillaumin, Berthe Morisot, and Frédéric Bazille. These artists influenced each other, worked together and exhibited their artworks together. They were disgruntled with the emphasis on portraying a mythological or historical subject matter with anecdotal or literary overtones in academic teachings. 

They also snubbed conventional idealizing and imaginative treatments of academic paintings. These artists called their group The Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc. A critic compared Monet's painting, "Impression, Sunrise" to an impression or unfinished sketch. This resulted in the term "Impressionists." The term was used to describe artists who showed these new, radical, and different paintings. 

The Impressionists artists adopted Eugène Boudin's ( a French landscape artist / one of the first artists to paint outdoors) practice of painting outdoors with the actual scene within sight, instead of the conventional practice of creating paintings in the studio from sketches. 

Date and Place of Birth

Claude Monet, also known as Claude Oscar Monet or Oscar-Claude Monet, was born in Rue Laffitte, Paris, France, on November 14, 1840. He was the second son of second-generation Parisians Claude-Adolphe and Louise-Justine Aubrée Monet. Adolphe worked in his family's shipping business, and Louise was a trained singer. 

He was married to Camille Doncieux from 1870–1879 and to Alice Hoschedé from 1892–1911. He had two children, Jean Monet, and Michel Monet. He was baptized at the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette as Oscar-Claude. His family moved to Le Havre, Normandy in 1845. 

Early Life and Education

Claude Monet was a decent student, but he did not like to be limited to a classroom. He was more interested in the outdoors. He developed a love for drawing at an early age. He started with drawing caricatures. He filled his school books with sketches, including caricatures of his teachers. 

Caricature of a Man with a Large Nose. Date:1855/56. Artist: Claude Monet. French,1840-1926. The Art Institute of Chicago. Art in the public domain.

While Monet's father encouraged him to paint and his mother supported his artistic inclination, his father wanted him to go into business. Monet, however, wanted to be an artist. 

Monet moved to Paris in 1859 to pursue his passion for the arts. He studied at the Académie Suisse National School of Fine Arts from 1859 - 1860. At this time, he met Camille Pissarro, a Danish-French Neo-Impressionist and Impressionist artist, who became a close friend for many years. Monet and Pissarro, later on, became the stalwarts of the Impressionism Movement. 

Finding Comfort in Art

Monet became well-known for his caricatures. He shifted to the natural world in his work after meeting Eugene Boudin, a landscape artist. Boudin introduced Monet to painting outdoors (Plein air painting) which would later become the foundation of Monet's artworks. 

Caricature of Auguste Vacquerie.Date: c. 1859. Artist: Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). after Nadar (French, 1820–1910). The Art Institute of Chicago. Art in public domain.

While most of Monet's artworks were critically acclaimed, he was still struggling financially. With Camille, his first wife and subject for many of his paintings, Monet met Louis-Joachim Guadibert. Guadibert became a patron of Monet's paintings allowing him to continue painting and caring for his family. 

When the Franco-Prussian War began, Monet and Camille fled to London, England, where he met his first art dealer - Paul Durand-Ruel. They returned to France after the war (1872) and settled in Argenteuil.

It was in Argenteuil where Monet began to create his own technique. Together with other artists such as Pissarro, Renoir, and Edouard Manet, Monet helped form the Graveurs, Peintres, Sculpteurs, and Société Anonyme des Artistes and exhibited their artworks together. 

It was also about this time that Monet helped establish the Impressionism Movement.


Claude Monet was a significant personality in the Impressionist Movement that changed French painting in the second half of the 19th century. Throughout his career, he showcased leisure and landscape activities of Paris, the Normandy coast, and other areas. He paved the way to 20th modernism through his unique style of capturing on canvas how he perceived nature.  

Women in the Garden (1867). His wife Camille was his model for this painting. His goal in this painting was to show the true effects of outdoor light. (Oil on canvas)

Westminster Bridge (1871). This is a simple asymmetric painting balanced by boats floating upon the waves, the horizontal bridge, the vertical wharf, and a ladder in the foreground. (Oil on canvas)

Boulevard des Capucines (1873). This painting shows the hurly-burly of Parisian life as seen from the studio of photographer Felix Nadar, Monet's friend. (Oil on canvas)

Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son (1875). This is one of the most popular figure paintings of Monet. While using live models, this painting was also done outdoors—oil on canvas.

The Rue Montorgueil in Paris (1878).  This painting shows Monet as being so particular with vision and effects. Oil on canvas.

Rouen Cathedral: The Facade at Sunset (1894).  This is one of Monet's most renowned paintings. He painted the cathedral at different times of the day to discover the various effects of light during winter. Oil on canvas.

Water Lilies (1915-26). This series of paintings occupied most of Monet's time until his death. The series consists of several canvases that create a panorama of water, lilies, and the sky. The most famous of this series of paintings are eight large panels of water lilies. Oil on canvas

Greatest Achievements

Claude Monet is best remembered for his significant contribution to the Impressionist art movement. His numerous paintings are parallel to his current popularity. Monet led Impressionism is still one of the most famous art movements, as evidenced by the many postcards, calendars, and posters where the art form is used. Most of Monet's paintings demand high prices at auctions. Some of his paintings are even considered priceless. There is not one major museum in the world without a Monet painting in their collection.  


Claude Monet succumbed to Lung Cancer on December 5, 1926, at 86 years old. He had wanted to have a simple ceremony, so only fifty people attended his burial in the Giverny Church Cemetery.