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Claude Monet’s Early Paintings

  • August 12, 2013
  • Monet
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Claude Monet is known as the father of Impressionism but he wasn’t always an Impressionist painter.  He began his art career creating charcoal caricatures until meeting artist Eugène Boudin who taught him how to use oil paints.  Boudin also taught Monet the technique of “en plein air” painting.  The two artists also informally studied under Dutch landscapist Johan Jongkind.

Monet’s first painting, View from Rouelles, was created in 1858.

View from Rouelles

View from Rouelles

At the age of 22, Monet joined the Paris studio of Swiss artist, Charles Gleyre, where he met fellow students Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frédéric Bazille.  The young artist experimented with the effects of light using broken color and rapid brushstrokes which later became known as Impressionism.  He replaced the dull colors and dark shadows of his predecessors with open spaces and sunlight.  Though he loved painting outdoors he wanted to please the Academy so he painted more traditional indoor paintings as well.  Monet experienced some success in these early days with landscapes, seascapes and portraits being accepted at the annual Salons of the 1860s.  Monet exhibited in the official Paris Salon for the first time in 1865 with two seascapes of the Seine estuary.

In the spring of 1865, Monet undertook his biggest project, Luncheon on the Grass (Déjeuner sur l’Herbe).  This mammoth canvas was not a success and was not finished in time for the 1866 Salon.  Instead, his entry to the Salon in 1866 was Woman in a Green Dress, also known as Camille.  This painting of his first wife wearing a green and black silk dress with a fur trimmed jacket and a small hat on her head, was completed in just four days and was a huge success.  Monet won national acclaim and was compared to artist Manet.

Woman in a Green Dress

Woman in a Green Dress

The following year Monet’s project for the Salon was, Women in the Garden, which Monet determined to complete entirely out of doors from start to finish.  The painting however, failed to meet the Salon’s approval and was rejected.

Women in the Garden

Women in the Garden

Monet created Impression, Sunrise in 1873 and was featured in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874.  This work is now considered the first Impressionist artwork and represents a revolutionary change in subject matter as well as in painting technique.

Impression, Sunrise

Impression, Sunrise

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