Wednesday, January 5, 2011
M is for Monet--Oscar Monet, that is!
The Rogue Speaks:
It's time for the first Alphabe-Thursday of the new year, and our letter today is M. Yes, I know I did an M post, but only because I am not good at following the instructions that Jenny gave us!
So today I offer you Oscar Claude Monet, founder of French impressionist painting! You didn't know his first name was Oscar, did you??
Born in 1840, Monet was baptised "Oscar-Claude," but was called Oscar by his family. His father was a grocer and of course it was expected that Oscar become one as well. He had inherited his artistic bent from his mother, Louise, who was a singer. Realizing that Oscar would never make it as a grocer, his parents sent him to art school, where he learned to paint in oils, and learned plein air (outdoor) painting. He had already begun to make a little money, doing charcoal caricatures of his neighbors, who paid him around twenty francs for one.
Monet's mother died when he was 16, and he went to live with his widowed aunt who had no children of her own.It was while he lived with his aunt that young Oscar frequently visited the Louvre, and watched art students copying the paintings of the old masters. He always brought his paints with him, but instead of copying others' work, he painted scenes outside the windows of the Louvre.
Monet tried his hand at military life, and was sent to Algeria, of all places! He lasted only two years in the cavalry before he came down with malaria and was sent home to recover.
In 1862, he was back in Paris and had made friends with the likes of Renoir, Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. The four men began to develop a new approach to art, spearheaded by Monet. It became known as impressionism. The term "impressionism" came from one of Monet's paintings called "Impression, Sunrise," seen in the first picture.
(His friend, August Renoir, painted a portrait of Monet, seen above, as well.)
Camille Doncieux, seen above in the painting "Woman in a Green Dress", became the subject of many of his paintings. I thought I had finally found a virtuous artist, but Camille became pregnant and gave birth to their son Jean in 1867. I was very disappointed to learn that they didn't marry, but lived in sin until 1870. I guess Monet was just too busy painting to make an honest woman out of Camille.
Claude and Camille were not destined to have a long life together. She contracted tuberculosis in 1876. In 1878, she gave birth to their second son, Michel, and it so weakened her that she died in 1879 at the age of 32. Claude painted a portrait of her on her deathbed. I find that rather bizarre, don't you??
Monet had always been fairly successful as an artist, and if poverty struck, it did not last long! When Camille became ill, he moved his family into the home of a friend and the two families shared the house. After Camille died, the wife of the friend helped Claude,as he was then known, to raise his two boys. The wife's husband, who owned a fancy department store, went bankrupt, but by that time Monet was making quite a bit of money with his paintings. The man's wife became disgusted with her husband losing all their money, so she divorced him.
Eventually, Claude married the woman and they finally settled in Giverny, in Normandy. It was a lovely spot, and the beautiful gardens and ponds Monet created there were frequently the subject of his paintings.
I'm sure you all know that Monet developed cataracts, and that is why many of his later paintings are rather blurry. He was painting what he saw! He did have surgery on one eye, which improved his vision somewhat.
After a long and successful life, Monet died of lung cancer in 1926, at the ripe old age of 86.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about Monet Next week, my post will be about the letter "N." For that post, I have chosen the topic...