Claude Monet – At The Heart of Impressionism

Study Day

Lecture One: Early Years

Monet was brought up in Le Havre where as a teenager he met the artist Eugene Boudin who encouraged him to paint seascapes in the open. His parents strongly disapproved of Monet’s desire to become a painter and only reluctantly allowed him to go to Paris where he studied at the Academie Suisse. His fellow students included Renoir, Bazille and Pissarro who were later to form the nucleus of the Impressionist movement. Monet was greatly impressed with Manet’s Dejeuner sur L’Herbe of 1863 and his Olympia of 1864 and admired the way Manet challenged the authority of the Salon and official art. He was also impressed by the down to earth works of Gustave Courbet with whom he painted around Le Havre. Monet’s earliest Impressionist works were painted in the 1860’s and include the wonderful ‘Magpie’ of 1869. When the Franco Prussian War broke out in 1870, Monet moved to London where he discovered the delights of the River Thames.

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Lecture Two:  Argenteuil and Paris 1871-1883

In 1871 Monet returned to a Paris devastated by war and the Commune. He moved to Argenteuil where for the next six years he was to paint some of his most memorable Impressionist pictures. He also worked in Paris notably at Gare St Lazare. He was involved in the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874 where his painting ‘Impression of Sunrise Le Havre’ gave the movement its name. In 1878 he moved with his family to Vetheuil where in 1878 Alice Hoschede and her children joined the Monet family, living together in the same house while Ernest Hoschede struggled with his impending bankruptcy. Monet painted a moving picture of his wife Camille on her deathbed in September 1879.

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Lecture Three: The Giverny Years

Monet discovered the village of Giverny in 1883 when he bought a house by the River Seine. Over the next 30 years he was to extend the house and develop his famous garden. Monet lived a happy life in Giverny surrounded by his two sons and the Hoschede girls who became his step-daughters when he married Alice Hoschede in 1892. His painting changed from the rapidly executed Impressionist works, to much more considered ‘Series Paintings’, the subjects including The Haystacks, Poplars on the Epte, Rouen Cathedral, Charing Cross and Waterloo Bridges, The Houses of Parliament, Etretat and his famous Waterlily Series. When he died in 1926 Monet was considered France’s leading artist, and although new artist movements were developing rapidly, Monet’s late work is as original and cutting edge as the Fauves or Cubists.

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