Claude Oscar Monet was born in Paris on November 14, 1840. Soon after, his family moved to Le Havre, where he spent his youth. His acquaintance with Eugène Boudin lead to Monet seriously pursueing his education as a painter in 1858. Boudin and Jongkind taught Monet to always work in the field in front of his motif. The following year Monet went to Paris anyway to begin academic training.
He joined the "Akademie Suisse" and joined his later fellow painters from the Impressionist group, especially when painting together "en plen air" in the forest of Fontainebleau. Their constant struggle was to have their pictures exhibited at the official "Salon de Paris", where the conservative jury mostly declined their paintings.
Because of the lack of acceptance of his artwork, Claude Monet and his small family had to live in dire poverty for many years. In 1879 his first wife Camille, with whom he had two children, died.
Monet's art had meanwhile developed from withdrawn color paintings to form an independent Impressionist style. With his famous painting "Impression: soleil levant", Claude Monet named one of the most important genres of Avant-garde art.
Some art lovers, especially the art dealer Durand-Ruel, supported him financially. Very gradually, a market developed for his pictures. In 1883 Claude Monet managed to earn enough money to move to Giverny, west of Paris, where he managed to buy the house he had been renting in 1890. He now had a place to return to after his frequent travels and the garden of his property, which he later managed to extend, provided constant inspiration for his work at home.
In 1891 Monet painted the first of his famous series: the "meules" (haystacks) were followed by pictures of poplars and the river Seine, the cathedral of Rouen, the river Thames in London and many more. His exhibitions were great successes and Monet became a celebrated artist. In 1892 he married Alice Hoschedé, who brought more children into the family.
From the turn of the century, the water lilies on the specially designed pond in Giverny and the picturesque wooden bridge in Japanese style became Monet's favorite motifs. In 1911 Alice died. In 1916, at the age of 76, Monet started his largest project: the creation of the famous wall decoration depicting the pond with the water lillies (now in Paris). In the 1920s his eyesight deteriorated and he had to have surgery, but he still did his utmost to continue painting.
Shortly before his death on December 5, 1926 Claude Monet finished his water lilly paintings. Today Claude Monet is regarded as the most well known Impressionist artist. His late work is increasingly considered to be the precursor for the abstraction of the 20th century.
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