Claude Monet – Pathbreaking Genius

Claude Monet, One of the founding members of Impressionism used his artistic perception to create works based on ordinary subjects. Most of his subjects were city landscapes of Paris.

As an Impressionist, he sometimes drew the same landscape repetitively as the light changed the overall appearance of the subject of his interest. Born in 1840, he was inspired by realism, the art movement that began around the 1950s. He found great mentors in realists and only those learnings influenced his knack of perception.

As a child, Monet drew portraits. However, only nature became his later subject of interest. There is such accuracy and detail in his works that they almost appear as photographed pictures. He focused on the light and seasonal changes in nature and used small brush strokes. In fact, small brushstrokes were his signature style. While he experimented with colors in a manner that he would sometimes use pure colours, he never switched from his signature style of brush usage. As he had journeyed a lot in his lifetime, foreign lands were recurring subjects of works. ‘Houses of Parliament’ and ‘Waterloo Bridge’ are some of the well-known examples.

Monet’s ‘Impression Sunrise’ was not received well at the exhibition organised collectively by the Impressionists as it was considered an aberration. The term ‘impressionist’ was used with the intention to insult the painter and his creation. However, the group received it as a compliment and adopted the term to define themselves. This is how Monet’s style led to the formal onset of the movement. The painting however seems incomplete due to the faded out appearance and unlike the other works of Monet, the brush strokes are rather sketchy in this painting.

However, the scholarly discourse of the work suggests that as Sunrise is momentary and does not last for more than a few minutes, he has shown the fleeting nature of this natural occurrence by imparting it a faded look. Perception also plays its role here as this time of the day makes the surroundings appear dull and that’s why such colour tones have been used.

The series of ‘Water Lilies’ is an iconic creation of Monet. There exist around 250 versions of ‘Water Lilies’ and all were painted during the last thirty years of his life. The subject constituted the natural surroundings of his home in Giverny, a small village in France. He created so many versions of this work in order to show the effects of light changes on the appearance of artwork and the perception of an artist. Undertaking this project was very important for Monet and he intentionally rented the place near the scene as he was captivated by its beauty.

However, water lilies were added to the scene by Monet himself and he worked on this subject despite all the odds presented by the townspeople, who believed that exotic plants and flowers would poison the water supply. Moreover, he did not stop even when his eyesight started weakening. In fact, critics are of the opinion that his blurred vision is what caused the changes in his perception of the same subject. To the same pond, Monet kept adding some elements and omitting the others. For instance, there exist ‘White Water Lilies’, ‘Pink Water Lilies’ and ‘Water Lilies with Reflections of Green Grasses’.

The total record of his paintings stands at around 2500. A lot of these works are now a part of private collections while the rest are preserved and exhibited in art museums around the world. The prolific artist has left behind a rich legacy that has a timeless value and thus will always be held high and inspire the up and coming generations of artists.

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Written By: Ashmita Khandelwal

Editor and Team Lead: Ashutosh Sharma

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About The Author(s)

Chemistry major with self-proclaimed good taste in Books and Music.

Ashmita Khandelwal
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