Timeline of Claude Monet’s Life | ImpressionistArts

Monet life

early years

November 14, 1840: Oscar-Claude Monet was born in a humble Parisian home, the son of a shopkeeper.

1845: Monet moves with his family to Le Havre, on the Normandy coast.

c. 1856: Monet, who has bags of artistic talent, makes sketches of local celebrities and sells them at a frame shop. Monet also meets Eugene Bodin, who introduces him to painting en plein air (outdoors) on the Normandy coast.

A caricature from Monet's teenage years

1857: Monet’s mother dies and Monet abandons his academic studies to focus on painting.

1859: Monet travels to Paris to study at the Suisse studio, where he meets Camille Pissarro.

1860: Monet is drafted into the army and serves in Algeria. but he contracts typhoid fever and returns to france to recuperate. his family then buys him out of the military (so he doesn’t complete his two years of military service)

1862: Monet returns to Paris, this time to study in Charles Gleyre’s studio, where he meets Auguste Renoir, Frederic Bazille, Alfred Sisley and Paul Cezanne.

monet begins to exhibit

1865: monet makes his debut at the paris salon, exhibiting the mouth of the seine at hornfleur to positive reviews. This upsets Edouard Manet, whose entry into the Salon that year, Olympia, was criticized: Manet thought Monet was sacrificing his reputation. learn more on our manet vs monet page.

1866: Monet’s Woman in the Green Dress is sent to the salon and again generates positive reviews.

Monet's Woman in a Green Dress

1867: Monet’s girlfriend, Camille Doncieux, becomes pregnant. Monet later married Doncieux on June 28, 1870.

1867, 1869, 1870: Monet’s entries to the salon are refused (there was no salon in 1868). These rejections were a serious problem for Monet: he had a young son to support, and unlike Manet and Edgar Degas, he had no family money that he could rely on.

war, london and the impressionist exhibitions

1870: Napoleon III declares war on the Prussian Empire. This turns out to be a disastrous tactical decision, with the French defeated by the end of 1870 and Paris besieged by the end of the year. Unlike Manet, Monet flees with Camille and his youngest son Jean to London.

While in London, Monet meets art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel (who would become the most important supporter of the Impressionists) and studies the works of Constable and Turner at the National Gallery.

1871: after traveling to Holland, Monet settled in Argenteuil.

1874: Monet helps organize the first Impressionist exhibition. reviews are hostile, with monet’s impression: sunrise featured for one particular review.

Monet's Impression Sunrise

A critic commented on Monet’s painting:

“impression! of course. there must be a print somewhere. what freedom… what flexibility of style. wallpaper in the early stages is more finished than that.”

1876: Monet’s money problems come to a head. send letters of appeal to patrons and friends, including edouard manet.

1876: monet exhibits at the second impressionist exhibition. The reviews are bad again, but at least Monet manages to sell his Japanese wife for 2,000 francs.

1877: Monet produces one of his famous collections of works, from the Parisian gare saint lazare train station. durand-ruel is so impressed with the paintings that he bought them as soon as he saw them and even made small payments to other members of the impressionist group. the paintings are on display at the third impressionist exhibition held this year.

One of Monet's 16 Gare St-Lazare paintings

March 1878: Camille gives birth to Monet’s second son, Michel.

September 5, 1879: Camille dies, perhaps as a result of complications from a botched abortion. Monet produces one of his most notable works, Camille Monet on his deathbed.

Monet's painting of his wife on her deathbed

giverny and gradual success

1883: Monet moves to Giverny, a large town 50 miles northwest of Paris. he initially rented a large farmhouse, buying it in 1890 and expanding the gardens on several occasions.

1883/4: monet travels with renoir along the mediterranean coast, later meeting cezanne in aix-en-provence. he also paints scenes in bordighera and etreat. In a letter to Rodin, he described how he was

“fencing, fighting with the sun”

Monet's Bordighera

1888: durand-ruel exhibits paintings by monet in new york.

1889-1925: Monet paints the series for which he is best known, water lilies (or nympheas in French). In total, he produces more than 300 versions of this theme, at different times of the day and at different levels of focus and abstraction.

One of Monet's 250 Water Lilies

1889-1892: Monet paints 25 versions of the haystacks (or piles of grain). fifteen versions of this painting are sold at an exhibition organized by durand-ruel in may 1891.


July 1892: Monet marries his second wife, Alice Hoschede. They live on the Giverny property with Monet’s two children and Hoschede’s six children from a previous marriage.

1892-3: Monet paints 30 versions of the Rouen cathedral.

1899: durand-ruel mounts the first exhibition of monet’s water lilies.

1899-1900: Monet travels to London and stays at the Savoy Hotel to paint the Houses of Parliament and Charing Cross Bridge.

One of Monet's sumptuous paintings of the gothic Houses of Parliament

last years

1907: Monet’s eyesight begins to deteriorate.

1909: an exhibition of 48 monet water lilies is held in paris. one reviewer notes that:

“…for as long as artists have painted, no one has painted better than this.”

1911: Alice Hoschede, Monet’s second wife, dies.

1914: Fourteen of Monet’s works hang in the Louvre, a rare honor for a living artist.

1914: Monet’s eldest son, Jean, dies. Monet falls into a deep depression and refuses to paint. Monet also refuses to leave Giverny at the start of the First World War, even though he can hear the shelling from his garden. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau encourages Monet to paint a series of decorative panels.

November 12, 1918: the day after the end of the first world war, monet writes to clemenceau and raises the idea of ​​donating two panels of water lilies to the french state. He signs formal donation documents on April 12, 1922, pledging to deliver eight canvases to be installed in the Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris in April 1924.

1922: Monet sells a single painting of water lilies to a Japanese collector for 800,000 francs! he was one of those rare artists whose talent was recognized during his own lifetime. Several of the Impressionists, and Manet in particular, were not recognized until long after his death.

1923: After a decade of suffering, Monet finally agrees to surgery to remove his cataracts. At this stage Monet was medically blind in one eye and had 10% vision in the other. During his ‘waterfall years’, Monet’s work became more abstract and he used more and more red paint. for example:

Monet's 1922 painting of his house in Giverny

December 5, 1926: Monet dies at the age of 86. Shortly after his death, eight enormous canvases of water lilies that Manet agreed to donate to the French state are installed in a purpose-built museum in Paris, the Musee de l’Orangerie. Known as the Great Decorations, these canvases are Monet’s crowning achievement, and the Orangerie is often referred to as the

“Sistine chapel of impressionism.”

June 2008: A version of Monet’s Water Lilies sells at auction in London for £40.9 million. Monet’s work now dominates impressionist auctions: of the twenty most expensive impressionist works, 12 are by monet.

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