Celebrating the 180th birth anniversary of Claude Monet
Born on 14 November 1840 in Paris and baptised as Oscar-Claude, although his family called him just Oscar and later in life he will be known as Claude. In 1845 the family moved from Paris to Le Havre in Normandy, where he then enrolled into a school of arts and met fellow painter Eugène Boudin, who introduced him to “en plain air” painting. This approach to painting subject influenced enormously the way Monet would interpret his role as a landscape painter.
With his revolutionary painting, Impression, Sunrise, exhibited for the first time in Paris in 1874, Monet unknowingly gave the name to the nascent Impressionist movement that also included fellow contemporary artists like Pissarro, Manet, Renoir and Sisley. The subject matter of this seascape seems secondary and all attention is given to the effects of light on the water and in the sky.
Summer, exhibited at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Depicting a tranquil countryside scene with a women sitting in a cool shadowy foreground, against a background in the summer heat with wind-blown trees. Most probably painted while spending the summer of 1874 in Argenteuil, along with Renoir and Manet.
The Lemon Grove in Bordighera, 1884, oil painting exhibited at the Glyptoteket in Copenhagen – Depicting a colourful Mediterranean scene, painted while the artist was spending some time in the South of France and in Italy in 1884. This garden landscape seems to be more attentive to details than his previous works and the result of some careful brushstroke work to portray an intricate layering of colours and shadows.
The Water-Lily Pond, 1899, oil painting exhibited at the National Gallery in London – Depicting a colourful and iconic scene from his garden in Giverny, in the outskirts of Paris. Monet found inspiration for his late paintings from the garden he carefully designed around his country house in Giverny. Today the garden is kept with a similar attention his previous owner had for it and provides an astonishing resonance with his paintings. One inevitably wonders whether Monet was depicting on canvas similar aesthetic ideas as he was creating with plants in his own garden.
Visiting Monet’s Garden in Giverny one is struck by the beauty of the water-lilies floating on the lake. Indeed these flowers were almost an obsession and an almost unique subject for Monet’s late paintings. He painted some 250 canvasses with this subject. The Nymphéas on the left is exhibited at Tate Modern.