Claude Monet is known as the father of Impressionism, but what many people don’t realize is that he got his artistic start drawing caricatures as a teen. Monet started drawing caricatures and doodles of his teachers in school; he would cover his books with them. He later became well known around Le Havre by selling his charcoal caricatures. He earned a living with his exaggerated drawings of locals and became very accomplished at his work. He exhibited at Gravier’s stationer, framer and ironmonger shop.
Monet said, “I started selling my portraits. Sizing up my customer, I charged ten or twenty francs a caricature, and it worked like a charm. Within a month my clientele had doubled. Had I gone on like that I’d be a millionaire today. Soon I was looked up to in the town, I was ‘somebody’. In the shop-window of the one and only framemaker who could eke out a livelihood in Le Havre, my caricatures were impudently displayed, five or six abreast, in beaded frames or behind glass like very fine works of art, and when I saw troops of bystanders gazing at them in admiration, pointing at them and crying ‘Why, that’s so-and-so!’, I was just bursting with pride.”
Drawing and selling his cartoonish pieces allowed Monet an income, but it also opened the door to becoming a professional artist.
Monet’s caricatures were exhibited along with Eugene Boudin’s paintings. Boudin noticed Monet’s talent when he saw the caricatures and, though Monet didn’t seem interested, the two artists eventually met. Feeling that his talents were wasted on caricatures, Boudin, typically a landscape painter, introduced Monet to outdoor painting and helped begin Monet on his journey from a caricaturist to one of the most famous painters of all time.