On this day in 1840, the great painter Claude Monet was born. I have to admit: I tend to discount him. This is always a problem when you are too successful. He has been so copied, he was hugely influential among his peers, and he was incredibly prolific. Add this to the fact that he makes painting look easy, and he is an easy artist to ignore. But he is profoundly awesome.
I always find people like him amazing. He really did have a vision. He was able to paint in the Academic style; he just refused to. I can’t see myself doing that. I want to be liked too much. So that kind of dedication to your vision impresses me greatly. He was apparently very self-assured from a young age. In his early teens he was good enough to sell charcoal caricatures. He bounced around a lot from there, learning much from a large number of people. Perhaps most important, he met Édouard Manet when he was about 20.
From there, he traveled quite a lot for the next decade — including two years with the military in Algeria. By his early 30s, he was one of the main figures of what would eventually become known as the impressionists — so named because of this painting he displayed at their first exhibit, Impression, Sunrise. The main thing about it is its distinctive rendering of light that would remain with Monet his entire career:
I’ve always been very impressed with Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare from four years later:
But there is so much more. He painted well over a thousand paintings in his life. And he painted for almost another 50 years — much of it quite marvelous.
Happy birthday Claude Monet!