Art History Lab

Capturing the Moment: The Life and Art of Claude Monet

Claude Monet’s Biography and Influences

Claude Monet was a French impressionist painter known for capturing the essence of natural light and color in his artwork. Throughout his lifetime, Monet created over 2,500 paintings, many of which are now considered masterpieces.

In this article, we will dive into Monet’s early life, notable acquaintances and mentors, and his later years, upon which his greatest artistic inspiration was found.

Early Life and Education

Claude Monet was born in Paris in 1840 and raised in Le Havre, Normandy. His passion for painting started at a young age, and by the time he was fifteen, he had already begun selling his work.

In 1858, Monet enrolled in the College du Havre, where he met the artist Eugne Boudin. Boudin encouraged Monet to paint “en plein air,” or in the open air, which became a signature characteristic of his impressionist style.

After leaving the College du Havre, Monet moved to Paris, where he attended the Acadmie Suisse. While there, he met Jonah Barthold Jongkind, a fellow artist who helped him develop his impressionist style.

Monet was also heavily influenced by the works of painters such as Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet.

Notable Acquaintances and Mentors

Throughout his life, Monet maintained close relationships with other artists, which led to the development of new artistic movements. In 1874, Monet and other artists formed the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers.

Monet’s painting “Impression, Sunrise” was exhibited with the group in the exhibition that coined the term impressionism. Monet was mentored by Jongkind and Boudin and was also influenced by the Barbizon School, a group of artists known for their landscape paintings and naturalism.

Other predecessors of impressionism that influenced Monet include Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Charles-Francois Daubigny.

Later Years and Artistic Inspiration

In 1883, Monet moved to Giverny, where he lived for the rest of his life. It was here that he discovered the inspiration for his most famous works, the Water Lilies series.

Giverny was also home to a Japanese water garden, which greatly influenced Monet’s artistic style and inspired many of his later works. The artist had also been heavily influenced by the unique light of the Giverny area, which he continually tried to capture in his paintings.

Monet’s last years were plagued by declining health, particularly cataracts that affected his ability to see color. Despite this, he continued to create beautiful paintings, and his legacy as one of the greatest painters in history continued to grow.


Claude Monet’s life and art have had a profound impact on the world of painting. The painter’s impressionist style, focus on natural light and landscapes, and inspiration from fellow artists and mentors have made him an icon of art history.

Monet’s artistic creations will continue to inspire future generations of artists for years to come. Formal Analysis of “Woman with a Parasol”

One of Claude Monet’s most beloved paintings is “Woman with a Parasol.” Painted in 1875, the work is alternatively known as “Madame Monet and Her Son” or “Camille Monet and Her Son, Jean.” In this section, we will explore the subject matter and composition, the color and light, and the perspective and movement in the painting.

Subject Matter and Composition

The painting captures a woman, thought to be Monet’s wife Camille, holding a parasol and standing on an embankment amidst the lush green grass and blue sky. Her son, Jean, is seen beside her, his back facing the viewer.

The composition is triangular, with the woman’s parasol at the center and her billowing dress accentuating the movement and dynamism of the scene. The painting’s setting is a snapshot of a moment in time, capturing the figures outdoors on a beautiful day.

The simplicity of the composition allows the viewer’s attention to focus on the woman and child, as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Color and Light

Monet’s “Woman with a Parasol” is characterized by a range of cool blues, whites, and greens, which give the painting a calm and serene feeling. The warm yellow color of the woman’s dress in the foreground creates contrast and emphasizes the movement of the painting.

The shadow of the parasol is carefully painted, and the variation of tonalities creates a sense of depth. Monet used color theory to create a feeling of light and nature, experimenting with the interaction of colors and how they are perceived in different lighting conditions.

The colors and light in the painting contribute to its overall impressionistic quality, creating a dreamlike and ethereal quality that is characteristic of Monet’s style.

Perspective and Movement

Monet employed a lower point of view in “Woman with a Parasol,” giving the painting a dynamic quality. The woman and child appear to be walking, and the wind is blowing in the direction indicated by the woman’s dress and the grass.

The elements of movement in the painting are emphasized by the triangular perspective and the arching shape of the parasol. The perspective is typical of Monet’s work, using a triangular format in the composition.

The painting is a snapshot of a moment in time, capturing the figures outdoors on a beautiful day. The use of a lower point of view and triangular perspective creates a sense of dynamism and movement in the painting that is typical of impressionism.

Monet’s Technique and Impact

In this section, we will explore Monet’s technique and the impact it has had on the art world. We will also discuss Monet’s exploration of formal elements in his Water Lilies series.

Brushwork and Brushstrokes

One aspect of Monet’s technique that stands out is his use of thick and thin brushstrokes to create texture and movement in his paintings. In “Woman with a Parasol,” strands of grass and the folds in the woman’s dress are painted with a sense of realism and dynamism.

The brushwork creates rhythm and a sense of movement in the painting, which is characteristic of Monet’s work.

Capturing the Moment and Exploration of Formal Elements

Monet, like other impressionist painters, sought to capture the moment and the ethereal qualities of light and color. Unlike traditional techniques of the time, Monet chose to explore formal elements such as brushstroke and color in his paintings.

This exploration of formal elements allowed Monet to push the boundaries of traditional painting techniques and paved the way for the emergence of abstract art, influencing artists such as Jackson Pollock. Monet’s Water Lilies series, painted later in his life, is a prime example of his exploration of formal elements.

The series focuses on capturing the beauty of nature and the ever-changing qualities of light and color. By experimenting with brushstrokes, color, and light, Monet created paintings that were more than just landscapes, they were works of art that captured the essence of nature and the passage of time.


Claude Monet’s “Woman with a Parasol” captures the essence of impressionism, emphasizing the importance of light and color in painting. The painting’s use of color, perspective, and movement creates a dynamic and ethereal quality that is characteristic of Monet’s style.

His exploration of formal elements and techniques paved the way for the emergence of abstract art and has had a lasting impact on the art world. This article explores the life and works of Claude Monet, one of the most influential painters in history.

Monet’s impressionist style emphasized the importance of light and color in painting and paved the way for the emergence of abstract art. The formal analysis of “Woman with a Parasol” showcases Monet’s techniques and use of formal elements, while the contextual analysis of impressionism highlights the movement’s impact on art history.

Through Monet’s life and works, we see the importance of experimentation, exploration, and capturing the moment. His legacy has had a lasting impact on the art world, influencing generations of artists to come.

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