The Resilience of Claude Monet
Claude Monet was famous for his impressionist water lily paintings but came so far and overcame many odds to become recognized. Throughout his career, he encountered many challenges such as his health and financial problems that made him question his career multiple times as an artist but always came through in the end. His career started when he was a young teenager and he met quite a few people who helped him out of the rough patches in his life.
It all started in 1856, Normandy when Monet was a teenager and moved to the beaches of France where he met Eugène Boudin. Boudin instructed Monet outside where he taught him a deep appreciation for the play of light on natural forms. Pleine Aire became a staple for the impressionist movement, and later when Monet became recognized he credited Boudin for his success.
One of the first roadblocks to Monet’s career occurred when he was drafted in the French Military to Algeria. His father didn’t approve of his painting but Monet wouldn’t give up. However, after a year that he was drafted Monet contracted Typhoid and his aunt would only take him back on the condition that he would continue to take art classes. He agreed and returned to France to recover from his illness and continue painting. It is said that none of the paintings from Algeria survived.
So, as Monet continued to paint, his father cut him off financially and he was left with a small family and a lot of financial problems he couldn’t solve. None of his paintings were doing well except for one, The Woman in a Green Dress (La Femme en robe verte) and so no art gallery would expose the rest of his work. Monet, therefore, escaped to London at the time of the Franco-Prussian War and there he met the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel who would buy his works and help in making his impressionist paintings known.
Therefore, as Monet kept painting, he met other impressionist artists of the time such as Monet, Manet, and Renoir who later formed the future impressionist group of 1872. They met in Argenteuil where the movement’s first work, Impression, Rising Sun was exhibited and later gave the name to the movement. According to Paris City Vision, “This painting was exhibited to the public during the first impressionist exhibition in 1874. This year would indeed mark the height of the impressionist movement and would define Monet as one of its creators.” Despite criticism, the impressionists would continue to produce six exhibitions until 1882. And the continual purchases by Durant-Ruel’s would allow Monet to live a decent life without having to participate in official art fairs. I think that Monet’s persistence certainly paid off as he never failed to pursue his dreams and meet the right people through networking in the cities he visited.
A habit that Monet continued to keep throughout his career is the repainting of many of his paintings. He would spend seasons where he would go outside and paint the same landscapes over again so viewers could see a trend of Monet’s improvement. One of his downfalls, however, was that he suffered from anger and depression. When he felt he wasn’t doing well enough it is reported that he destroyed about 500 of his paintings and as a result postponed one of his art shows in Paris. It isn’t known why he would slash his paintings but his bouts of anger made it seem to himself that maybe he wasn’t good enough to himself at times.
As he aged, he continued to paint, and this is when he painted his famous water lilies. His eyesight began to deteriorate and it became harder for him to paint. The colors in his paintings reflected the way his eyes changed in sight as he developed cataracts. He used a lot of reds and yellows in his work as his eyes worked harder at seeing. He didn't always approve of surgery as he witnessed other artists of his time completely lose their eyesight but he did decide to eventually get surgery on his right eye. The changes in his paintings are evident and it is said that he could see ultraviolet light after his surgery. He used many blues and purples in his paintings and since he painted a lot of the same pieces over and over again people could notice the gradual change in his artwork throughout the years.
Monet's resilience throughout time showed his passion and dedication to his work. Not everyone agreed with his vision for art, especially his family who would cut him off financially. So he struggled a lot of the time and had to find a way to continue doing what he loved. I believe his persistence and networking in the right moments of life helped him meet the people who would support his art. Boudin, Ruel, and the rest of the impressionists we're certainly people who understood his passion and spurred him on to greatness.
Carouthers, P. (2020, May 21). Claude Monet's Life and Works in 10 Surprising Facts. Art & Object. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.artandobject.com/news/claude-monets-life-and-works-10-surprising-facts
Claude Monet's Biography - his life, history and work - PARISCityVISION. (n.d.). Paris City Vision. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.pariscityvision.com/en/giverny/claude-monet-biography
Vanderweide, Z. (2019, February 5). 21 Facts About Claude Monet | Impressionist & Modern Art. Sotheby's. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.sothebys.com/en/articles/21-facts-about-claude-monet