Claude Monet

1840 - 1926

Claude Monet was born in Paris on 14 November, 1840. When he was five years old, his family moved to the seaport of Le Havre. Later, Monet was to say that, as a child, he was interested in the ocean and the landscapes of Le Havre. As an adolescent, he developed a  reputation in school for painting caricatures of teachers and his classmates. Over the years, he built up a collection of these caricatures, which he was able to sell for 2 000 francs. It was after this that his relatives finally realised he might have enough talent to make a living from painting!

Early in his life, Monet seemed destined to seek inspiration from other artists and teachers. Through his schooling in the arts, he met other famous painters, such as Renoir and Manet. By the time he was in his 20s, Monet had no financial support from any of the members of his family. Money was always in short supply, even for daily necessities such as food.


It took many long difficult years for Monet to find success as an artist. As with all the Impressionists of the time, the Salons did not want to buy or sell his paintings. To overcome this problem. In 1874 Monet and some other artists held an independent exhibition, hoping to break the power of the Salons. Gradually, though, Monet began to achieve greater success as an artist. He was commissioned to do numbers of paintings, and the money he made he used to buy new homes and even farms. By the 1900s, even a simple painting of two haystacks in a field could make a lot of money for him. Towards the later part of his life, Monet began to paint one of his favourite, and best-known, subjects - waterlilies.

As a person, Monet was strong-willed, always doing what he wanted to do - even if that meant arguing with his family, or even those he wanted to borrow money from! He was very conscious of money, especially the money his artworks could bring him. It is said he often put Sold signs on some of his paintings, to make it appear that they were very popular and selling well! By doing this, he hoped to drive up the price and make customers think they should hurry and buy a painting before they all disappeared.

By the time he died in 1926, Claude Monet had devoted 40 years of his life to Impressionism. Six months before his death, he wrote: In the end, the only merit I have is to have painted directly from nature.

The majority of Monets paintings are today to be found in the worlds museums. He has become, in art terms, a household name and his work is still hugely admired by all those who enjoy art in general and Impressionism in particular