Poppy Field by Claude Monet is such a lovely fresh painting. Women and children taking a stroll in beautiful fields. Their hats and parasols brightening the scene alongside the dainty flowers. White clouds flitting across the blue summer sky and over the comfortable looking mansion in the distance. Very 19th Century idyllic.
How good do I think my copy is? Well, I really enjoyed painting this but the fields are far too green and I failed to show the height difference – the foreground pair are supposed to be at a much lower level. And my depiction of the poppies isn’t too good either. But I think it’s still very pretty.
Claude Monet The Artist
Oscar-Claude Monet was another 19th Century French Artist, one of the ones who’s name is closely associated with the Impressionist movement.
He was born in Paris in 1840 though the family moved to the Normandy coast whilst he was still a child. He showed an aptitude for the arts when young which was encouraged by his aunt Madame Lecadre though, as was often the case, his father disapproved and would have preferred Claude to show more interest in the family business.
Monet was unable to get a grant to study art in Paris but he managed to scrape some savings together and spent time there, around 1859, drawing models at the Academie Suisse which was free.
In 1862 Monet began studying at Charles Gleyre’s atelier though this only lasted a couple of years before Gleyre retired. It was here that he met Bazille, Renoir and Sisley. Bazille was to be a great financial help to Monet in the late 1860s, he sadly died in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian war.
Monet had some early success, two of his landscape paintings were accepted to the Salon of 1865 and he had also received a few commissions by that point. But that period also included lots of financially tough stretches for him and his girlfriend Camille Doncieux.
Claude and Camille had their first child Jean in 1867. They got married in 1870 just before Claude Monet left for England to escape the Franco-Prussian war. Also in England at the time, and for the same reasons, was the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel with whom Monet had a business relationship for the rest of his life.
Monet returned to France in 1871 and settled with his family in Argenteuil, a small town near Paris. They were there for seven years and in this period his work flourished. It was one of his paintings created in that period – Impression, Sunrise – which gave the name to the famous art style.
Around 1877/78 Monet’s fortunes changed once more. His patron Ernest Hoschede was made bankrupt and Camille, who had a second child, Michel, in 1878, fell ill. To make things easier the two families decided to move in together – Claude, Camille, their two children, Ernest, his wife Alice and their six children – quite a large household!
Ernest found work back in Paris and when, sadly, Camille died in 1879 Monet found himself heading the household of ten and for a time things were tough. Fortunately in the early 1880s Monet’s relationship with the dealer Durand-Ruel began to pay dividends and he was able make a good income. In 1883 he moved to Giverny which was to be his last home.
Monet married Alice in 1892 after Ernest Hoschede died. During this period he was achieving great success with paintings such as the Haystack series, the Poplars series and the Rouen Cathedral series. His wealth meant he could afford to create a large flower garden with a water-lily pond and Japanese bridge. He was to paint this garden many times in his later years.
Monet died on the 5th of December 1926.
Here are some of his most famous works:
This famous 1873 painting of a poppy field on a bright summer’s day was shown at the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874. Currently held at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris it measures about 19.5 * 25.5 inches. Monet took advantage of the beautiful Argenteuil countryside to advance his plein-air techniques. The woman and child in the foreground are thought to be Monet’s wife Camille and their son Jean.
This was the painting from which the Impressionist movement was named – an oil on canvas showing the sun rising over the port of Le Havre. A group of artists, miffed at their rejection by the Salon, arranged their own exhibition, the first Impressionist Exhibition, in April/May 1874. Amongst them were Monet, Manet and Cezanne. An interesting point about this rather sketchy painting is the apparent brightness of the sun. What we see is only a contrast in colour, when viewed in greyscale the sun disappears into the sky.
Gare St Lazare
In the late 1870s Monet created a series of 12 paintings of this great Parisian train station. He painted them at various times of the day, from different vantage points and under different light and atmospheric conditions. This version is held at the Musee d’Orsay. The painting measures 29.5 * 41.3 inches.
Grain Stacks in the Sunlight
Monet made a very famous series of paintings known as the Haystacks. The paintings actually depict stacks of grain (possibly wheat, barley or oats) rather than hay. The paintings were mostly created in 1890/91. Like the Gare St Lazare series he show the stacks under differing light and atmospheric conditions, at different times of the day and under different weather conditions.
In 1892 and 1893 Monet made a series of over 30 paintings of Rouen Cathedral. This one shows the building at sunset, a harmony of blue and gold. It is held at the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris.
Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge
Monet’s garden at Giverny with its flowers and water-lily pond were the subjects of another of his well known series. He painted these frequently in the last decades of his life.