b. 1840 Paris, d. 1926 Giverny, France
"Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you." --Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a successful caricaturist in his native Le Havre, but after studying plein-air landscape painting, he moved to Paris in 1859. He soon met future Impressionists Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Renoir and Monet began painting outdoors together in the late 1860s, laying the foundations of Impressionism. In 1874, with Pissarro and Edgar Degas, Monet helped organize the Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs, etc., the formal name of the Impressionists' group.
During the 1870s Monet developed his technique for rendering atmospheric outdoor light, using broken, rhythmic brushwork. He received little but abuse from public and critics alike, who complained that the paintings were formless, unfinished, and ugly. He and his family endured abject poverty. By the 1880s, however, his paintings started selling; Pissarro accused him of commercialism, and younger painters called him passé, for he remained loyal to the Impressionists' early goal of capturing the transitory effects of nature through direct observation. In 1890 he began creating paintings in series, depicting the same subject under various conditions and at different times of the day. His late pictures, made when he was half-blind, are shimmering pools of color almost totally devoid of form.