Claude Monet was born in Paris, France on the 14th of November 1840. When Monet was 5 he moved to the town of Le Havre for the majority of his youth. Monet was considered to be undisciplined and unlikely to make an achievement of his life by his parents and teachers. His father owned a wholesale grocery that Monet showed no interest in inheriting. He was only interested in painting. By the age of fifteen he was receiving commission from his works. He later grew to become one of the greatest influential impressionist painters of all times.
Monet was the leader of the impressionist movement. He influenced art by trying to paint his personal spontaneous response to outdoor scenes or events. Earlier artists had also painted outdoor studies rapidly, almost in shorthand. They used such studies as “notes” for more elaborate pictures painted in the studio. Monet was the most important of the artists who first allowed their initial impressions of outdoor scenes to stand as complete works. Monet painted directly from the object in order to record visual sensation more accurately.
He was especially concerned with the effect of outdoor light and atmosphere. Impressionists recorded their own sensations of color, and the outlines and solidities of the world as interpreted by common sense melt away. The impressionist emphasis on the prime reality of sensation in the process of apprehending nature or the world had its parallel in the work of contemporaneous scientists, philosophers of science, and psychologists who asserted that reality is sensation and that knowledge could be based only on the analysis of our sensations.
The Impressionists sought to create the illusion of forms bathed in light and atmosphere. This goal required an intensive study of outdoor light as the source of our experience of color. Shadows do not appear gray or black, as many earlier painters thought, but seem to be composed of colors modified by reflections or other conditions. In painting, if complementary colors are used side by side over large enough areas, they intensify each other, unlike the effect of small quantities of mixed pigments, which blend into neutral tones.
Although it is not strictly true that the Impressionists used only primary hues, juxtaposing them to create secondary colors (blue and red, for example, to create purple), they did achieve remarkable brilliant effects with their characteristically short, choppy brush strokes, which so accurately caught the vibrating quality of light. Scientific studies of light and the invention of chemical pigments increased artistic sensitivity to the multiplicity of colors in nature and gave artists new colors with which to work.
Special luminance was achieved by using new pigment colors like viridian green and cobalt violet (both invented in 1859) and cerulean blue (invented in 1860). These pigments, applied with newly available flat bound brushes, often were placed on the canvases covered with a base of white pigment (white ground), rather than with the brown or green tones favored by earlier artists. Monet had a fascination with light that led him to paint several series of pictures showing the effect of sunlight on a subject.
The apparition of color challenged him everywhere: gardens, fields in bloom, cloud-mottled skies, and rivers with sailboats, seaside resorts, and rocky coasts. For example, Monet painted the view of a cathedral and also a haystack under changing atmospheric day to explore the optical effects of changing light and color. In 1883, Monet settled in Giverny, there he purchased a home in the country. Here he painted the garden scenes and the well-known water lilies. Monet carried the color method furthest.
Monet called color his “day-long obsession, joy and torment. ” One among many successful results of his obsession with color is the huge canvas Luncheon (Decorative Panel). A blaze of light, vibrating with granules of spectral color, transmutes a suburban garden into a sunburst, the picture giving off its own light. The radically eccentric composition places two ladies at the extreme upper right, and a small boy (the artist’s son Jean), at the extreme lower left, almost invisible in the bright glow from the tea-table cloth.
The luminous space that opens up between the figures is a field fro the play of color particles, seeming to gather into light, then dissipate. That spacious area joins the space of the observer, placing us in the garden. This is a form of framing scene constant in all Impressionist design. For Monet the phenomenon was color, and his laboratory was the out-of-doors. In this instance, it is his garden at Argenteuil, where he often painted in the company of Manet and Renoir.