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An Artist's View - "Exploring the Influence of Monet: A Look into Victoria Zyluk's Presentation at The Mahogany Art Club"

Claude Oscar Monet (1840 – 1926)

Victoria in front of "The Waterlilies" by Monet at The Orangerie, Paris.


Claude Monet, considered to be the founder of the Impressionist Movement was born in Paris in1840 but moved to Le Havre with his parents when he was about 6 years old. In his teens his caricatures of affluent people became very popular. His father planned that he would go into the grocery business and was very annoyed that Claude wanted to become an artist. However, dazzled by tales of military life Claude joined the army as a soldier in Algeria. This did not go well. He became ill with typhoid in his first year! Luckily his aunt who encouraged his artistic pursuits paid for his release from the army and also for his studies in Art in Paris.

A photograph of a painting by Victoria of Claude Monet's Home in Giverny. Victoria worked on the painting "en plein aire"

Monet learned to paint traditional, acceptable subjects. While there he fell in love with his model Camille Doncieux. His father would not approve of the marriage (even though she had a dowry) and would not support them. 

This is a photograph taken of Monet's house.

During this time they had two sons. While in Paris, Monet met Renoir, who became a good friend, Pissaro, Sisley, Morisot and Degas, who was not fond of Monet. They argued, about techniques that they were trying out. While in the south of France he met Bazille a wealthy young man who suggested that they form a group. Together they came up with the idea of the Impressionist Movement and formed the Anonymous Society of Painters (proud to be radically different).

Their work was not accepted in the prestigious Salon de Paris show. People made fun of Monet’s work as partially finished. The term “Impressionist” was given by someone intending to be derogatory! Back in Normandy when Monet met Eugene Baudin his life changed! He was introduced to En Plein Air Painting and never looked back!

Monet‘s work was not selling and he became bankrupt. Depressed he threw himself off a bridge into the Seine. To his dismay he survived the Fall! Thereafter he began experimenting with colour and light. Monet loved his evolving style ----loose, few details, short brushstrokes, vivid colours . He did not like brown and earth colours. After 1870 he did not use black. Monet disliked the “ Formulaic” style (Painting to a formula) He believed that artists should experiment and create their own vision. A painting’s purpose was to express emotion. Obsessed with shimmering broken light and atmosphere his goal was to capture the fleeting moments of Nature. He would paint the same scene over and over again to achieve this end. He believed that when the light changed the artist should stop painting. An artist should also experience the sensation that nature imparts. Natural light and shadows were more accurate when seen with the eyes outdoors. Sometimes there seems to be a blur. The Rouen Cathedral is an example. Monet made 30 paintings of it to depict the passing of time. He often finished paintings back in his studio. Monet’s work was very planned (sometimes 5 stages) before painting. Although he tried watercolour and pastels he eventually decided on oils.


White lead (Titanium White)

Cadmium yellow light

Cadmium yellow


Madder (Alizarin Crimson)

Cobalt Blue

Chrome, Emerald or Viridian Green


-         Layering of colours (up to 15 have been found) to create depth and perspective

-         Short wide strokes to create a tapestry of colours

-         Used complementary colours as he said that “No shadow is black!”

A Limoges Plate that could have graced Monet's Table

The Impressionist style began to gain popularity. They hosted their own show in a photographer’s studi0 (lost money) The second show was more successful. Monet had periods of financial highs and lows. When he needed cash in a hurry he would sell a painting for just 50 francs! He was adamant about having the best quality and lived beyond his means. The Monets with 2 children and Hoschedes (with 6 children) pooled their resources living together in Vetheuil and later  buying a large house in Giverny. After Camille died and after Alice Hoschede’s husband died, Monet married Alice. Claude Monet lived well but not ostentatiously. He loved entertaining and having guests for dinner. Monet designed the dining room, ordered special yellow and blue chinaware from Limoges and even planned dinner menus. He had a great fondness for Japanese décor and art. Dinner guests were shown the Japanese woodcut on the yellow walls of his dining room. Every day fresh flowers were placed in every room. The pink and green exterior reflected his preferred colour palette. Monet found his garden a constant source of inspiration. He imported his waterlilies from around the world (Egypt, South America, China, Japan).  His garden development over 25 years was financed with money from his paintings. Of course the garden included a Japanese bridge! This stubborn, eccentric, perfectionist paid a gardener to row out early each morning and dust off each lily pad in the pond. He wouldn’t paint them until they were clean! During these painting years Monet vision was affected by cataracts. He saw his paints with a yellow tinge. Colours had to be identified for him. This however, is not why his work seems blurry. One of his most famous and largest work is Les Nymphiades (wall sized paintings showing light on his waterlily pond at different times of day). This was very difficult for him to paint not only because of his poor eyesight but his health suffered. He donated this work (approx.. 19 large wall panels) to the French Government. You can experience the feeling of being immersed in the pond at the Orangerie Gallery in Paris. More paintings can be viewed at the Musee d’Orsay. I was in awe at his extraordinary work!

Claude Monet died on December 5, 1926 from lung cancer (as he was a heavy smoker). He certainly left an Impression on the world . Recently a dealer discovered a Monet pastel ( on the back of another artwork) which was auctioned at Sotheby’s for $110.7 million dollars!!

Scenes 0f Honfleur - a church - views of the marina - all scenes that Monet may have painted/

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