Claude Monet and Impressionism
Claude Monet was born in Paris on the 14th November, 1840. When he was five years old, he moved to the port town of Le Havre. For much of his childhood, Monet was considered by both his teachers and his parents to be undisciplined and, therefore, unlikely to make a success of his life. Enforcing this impression, Monet showed no interest in inheriting his father's wholesale grocery. The only subject which seemed to spark any interest in the child was painting. He developed a decent reputation in school for the caricatures he was fond of creating. By the age of fifteen, he was receiving commission for his work.
It was at Le Havre that Monet met the painter Eugene Boudin. While Boudin's own paintings have never been held in that high regard, he is seen as having played a critical role in the education of Monet. Born of a seafaring family in 1824, Boudin was obsessed with the idea of painting outdoors or en plein air . The two painters met in 1856 and, at first, Monet resisted Boudin's offer of tuition but he eventually relaxed his protestations and before long, the two had forged a relationship that was to last a lifetime. Although Monet soon left Le Havre to spend a large part of his life traveling throughout Europe, he returned frequently to visit his old friend. The interest that had been sparked some years earlier was refined and shaped and Monet was in no doubt as to the extent to which his outlook on life had been altered:
My eyes were finally opened and I understood nature; I learned at the same time to love it.
Boudin may have opened Monet's eyes, he may have even convinced the young painter to break with tradition and finish his paintings outdoors, but the young protégé had yet to truly experience the country's capital. Before long, the limitations of L e Havre on a burgeoning young artist became all to apparent and, in 1859, Monet left for Paris. However, having displaced himself to the heart of Europe's art-world, Monet soon found himself disillusioned by the confines of long-since established principles. He rejected the formal art training that was available in Paris. Bored and frustrated, Monet was to do more painting at the very relaxed Académie Suisse then in the formal schools for which he had left Le Havre.
In the Spring of 1862, Monet was called up for National Service. He went to Algeria for a year with a prestigious regiment: les Chaussures d'Afrique . This experience was to have a profound effect on Monet. The landscapes and colors of Algeria presented an entirely different perspective of the world, one which was to inspire him for many years to come. Theoretically, Monet should have remained in Algeria for seven years, but his time there was curtailed by the contraction of typhoid. The artist's aunt, Madame Lecadre, intervened and bought Monet out of the army. Her only condition: that Monet return to Paris and make a serious attempt at completing a formal artistic tuition...