Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The 171st Anniversary of the Birth of Claude Monet

This week marked the 171st anniversary of the birth of Claude Monet

Born: 14 November 1840

Birthplace: Paris, France

Died: 5 December 1926 (86)

Best Known As: Impressionist painter of water lilies

"People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love." - Claude Monet

Claude Monet was a founder and central figure of the 19th century art movement known as Impressionism. Early in his career, Monet painted realistic landscapes, but after the 1870s he focused more on the effect of changing light on everyday objects. Often he painted multiple studies of the same subjects, from train stations and haystacks to the London skyline, the Rouen Cathedral and, most famously, water lilies.

During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) Monet fled from Paris to England, where he formed friendships with Camille Pisarro, Auguste Renoir and other figures central to Impressionism. He returned to Paris at the end of the war, settling in Giverny, where he began a long series of paintings of haystacks (or grain stacks) during the 1890s.

Monet's Impressionistic paintings sold well and his financial success allowed him to purchase property in Giverny, where he built a large garden that became the subject of his series Water Lilies (1906-26). Monet's scenes have since become some of the most recognized paintings in the world. One of his lily paintings sold in 1998 for around $39 million, and in 2007 "Waterloo Bridge, Temps Couvert" sold at auction for more than $35 million.

Monet's painting Impression: Series (1872) is said to be the inspiration for the name of Impressionism... Monet spent two years in the military, in Algiers, before his father agreed to buy him out of his conscripted seven-year service

It was Monet's dedication to the purity of the motif that caused him to create gardens wherever he lived. By the time he lived and painted in Giverny, Monet employed six full-time gardeners to create the gardens that inspired his water lilies canvas.

Many years ago I purchased a poster print of the above image of Monet’s Garden at Vetheuil. It has the monetary value of under $20 but it has travelled with me as I lived in several different countries. For many years it was on the wall in my bedroom and was strategically placed so that when I opened my eyes in the morning it was the first thing that I would see. I would lie in bed for a while and imagine walking through the sunflower fields. Also thinking about the little girl in the picture and wondering who was she? What was her life like in the 1800’s?

During the years that I lived in Spain I saw fields of sunflowers which were grown for marketing and distribution around the world. I was intrigued by the wonderful 'faces' of the sunflowers which would always follow the sun. As the sun moved around in the sky the flowers would all be facing in the direction of the sun. An amazing sight and one that I remember still today as I look at Monet's painting.

I moved into my present home five years ago and I placed the print on the wall in my kitchen, and actually coordinated the colors in the kitchen around those colors in the picture. I look at it every day and I love it.

When I typed in the word Monet in the computer search engine it told me that there were 47,000,000 results. (Forty seven million!) Is it any wonder that we still speak the name of Claude Monet 171 years later?

Monet's art has definitely brought joy into my life over the years.

Consider me a fan J

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