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Claude Monet was a French impressionist painter living in the nineteenth century. Born and raised in Paris, Monet spent much of his life there, depicting both natural and urbane scenes that prevailed throughout the city of Paris and the countryside surrounding it. An upbringing split between the enigmatic city of Paris and a rural village in Normandy, where his family later moved, greatly influenced Monet's most famous and influential works. As a young man, Monet frequented the Louvre, where he observed aspiring artists copying the great works that hung on the museum's gallery walls. Monet, however, preferred to sit by the window, look out it, and simply paint what he saw.
After a brief stint in the African Light Calvary (stationed in Algeria) Monet contracted typhoid fever. This illness allowed Monet to escape the treacherous seven year term that most French soldiers committed to at that time. Upon returning to France, Monet's aunt coerced him into taking an art course at an art school in Paris. It was here that Monet began to discover his style as he worked under Swiss artist Charles Gleyre, who gently guided the young Monet. It was also at this time that Monet became acquainted with other artists who he would forever remain bonded with, as together they created the style now known as impressionism. These artists included Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet and Alfred Sisley. Together these young men explored new ways of viewing and creating art, focusing on the effects of light “in the open air” and evolving new stylistic approaches that involved rapid brush strokes and broken, refracted color elements.
Monet's style further evolved during a period spent in England as refugee during the Franco-Prussian war. It was here that he studied great British landscape artists such as Joseph Mallord William Turner, who sparked in Monet a desire to paint landscapes in refreshingly new ways that would re-imagine the possibilities of color in a simple painting. It was during this time that Monet suffered a great deal of rejection of his work, but is also thought to have coined the term “impressionism” based on a title of one of his painting's, a simple scene of a harbor.
Impressionism remains one of the most widely recognized and esteemed art movements in the art world. Basic elements of almost all impressionistic paintings include an open composition, highly visible and distinct brush strokes, emphasis on the effects of light, an intense focus on movement of ordinary subject matter. Impressionistic paintings have great breadth, however, and included still lifes, landscapes and portraits. Impressionism, as created by Claude Monet and his like minded contemporaries is considered the precursor to many more influential art movements including Fauvism, Cubism and Neo-Impressionism, of which many more notable artists participated. Works similar to those of Monet's can be found our Landscape Canvas gallery.
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