Claude Monet: Impressionist Who Traveled For Inspiration
Best Painters In History
Claude Monet is well known for using the flickering brushwork and open air painting that has come to be known as Impressionism. His style later developed into what we refer to as Post-Impressionism that was primarily done in a studio as opposed to the outdoors that the Impressionism works were generally done. In 1874, Monet along with many other artists formed a group that referred to themselves as the Impressionists, which would later define that genre of art. The group had originally met in the 1860’s and includes: Mary Cassett, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Claude Monet. Degas was the only other in the group who would later join Monet in painting Post-Impressionism works.
Between the years of 1877-1886, the group exhibited their art in eight different exhibitions. Although their work began in France, their inspiration spread to the Americas. Claude Monet felt some anxiety over the American interest in his work. He feared that all his best paintings would go to the United States and not remain in France like he wished. He expressed this concern to his art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel in January of 1886. Despite Monet’s wishes, many of his works were sent to America and now reside in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Stacks of Wheat: End of Summer
Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago
Due to his art dealer's ambition, the Impressionism movement spread to America, many looking at Monet for inspiration. One exhibition in particular, the “Works in Oil and Pastel” by the Impressionists Paris held at the American Art Galleries in New York City had three-hundred pictures on display. Fifty-eight of the works were painted by Monet, which was the most paintings by any of the painters at this exhibit, followed by Renoir at forty-two. Not all of the works painted by Monet, were chosen by himself to be exhibited. Many of the works were pieces that American’s who had purchased his paintings prior, chose to display.
One of these fans was a woman known as Mrs. Palmer. She was an avid art collector traveling from Paris and New York to collect her paintings. She began her collection in 1888 and continued until 1895. She owned one-hundred of Claude Monet’s paintings, nine of these works were from his most famous series Stacks of Wheat, in which she purchased these in 1891. After years of admiring his work, she finally met him in 1892. She bequeathed several of her paintings to the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1920’s and 1930’s, where they still are today.
Claude Monet was the first to use the term Impressionism, when he titled his painting; Impression Sunrise. From that painting, the term for Impressionism was born to describe the style of painting known for its light brush strokes of the natural world. He chose the word due to its duel meaning. The first meaning being when one material presses against another leaving an impression, similar to the effect paint has on a canvas. The second meaning refers to when we say “first impression;” the impression something leaves on our mind and senses when we see it.
From there, Impressionism became a style all its own that many people adopted. Unlike the Romantic style that proceeded, Impressionists primarily focused on landscapes, still life, and other everyday natural scenes. They also began using more vibrant colors, as well as, light brushwork that did not have the smooth texture of Romantic painters. This gave more of a sketch feel rather than a “finished” work. Impressionist painters focus on the effect season and light have on nature. He accomplished this in his first series where he took one subject and painted the same scene at different times of day.
Impressionist Paintings by MonetClick thumbnail to view full-size
Maison de Monet: Giverny
People began following the inspiration that Monet left in his wake. Where he worked, people would follow. In 1883, he rented property in Giverny, a city fifty miles north of Paris. Many Americans traveled across the sea to seek his inspiration. Monet impressed one American especially; Theodore Robinson. Robinson became a student of Monet. Robinson and Monet eventually grew a close friendship. Robinson mimicked Monet’s loose, yet layered brushwork in his own paintings, which only continued Monet’s great legacy.
In the early years, he traveled a lot around the world. It was in 1890 where he finally settled in Giverny due to his increasing age and rheumatism. After he was settled for good, he painted one of his most influential Post-Impressionism series; Stacks of Wheat. This series ended up being a series of at least thirty. Even his longtime Impressionist colleague Pissaro was impressed by the finished works, despite his initial criticism of him for repeating himself. Once he viewed the work, he changed his mind, and vocalized his praise of Monet's series to his son in a letter.
Impressionism may not have been known by its name today, if it was not for Claude Monet, who found his first inspiration from his painting; The Beach at Sainte-Adresse. After painting it, he proclaimed, “It was as if a veil suddenly lifted from my eyes and I knew that I could be a painter." Although it took him many years of financial hardship, he soon paved his way as one of the most famous painters of the Impressionism Era.
Wood, James N. One of the Early Impressionist Painter Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: In the Art Institute of Chicago; The Art Institute of Chicago: Hudson Hills Press. 2000.
© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz