Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet , 1840 to 1926, was a founder of French Impressionist painting and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, soleil levant which was exhibited in 1874 in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his associates as an alternative to the Salon de Paris. Monet's ambition of documenting the French countryside led him to adopt a method of painting the same scene many times in order to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where he purchased a house and property, and began a vast landscaping project which included lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life. After 1911 Monet began to develop the first signs of cataracts. During World War I, in which his younger son Michel served and his friend and admirer Clemenceau led the French nation, Monet painted a series of weeping willow trees as homage to the French fallen soldiers. In 1923, he underwent two operations to remove his cataracts. The paintings done while the cataracts affected his vision have a general reddish tone, which is characteristic of the vision of cataract victims. It may also be that after surgery he was able to see certain ultraviolet wavelengths of light that are normally excluded by the lens of the eye; this may have had an effect on the colors he perceived. After his operations he even repainted some of these paintings, with bluer water lilies than before. Monet died of lung cancer on 5 December 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. His home, garden, and waterlily pond were bequeathed by his son Michel, his only heir, to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966. Through the Foundation Claude Monet, the house and gardens were opened for visits in 1980, following restoration
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