F1 in the Art block is named after Claude Monet, a famous French painter whose work gave a name to the art movement Impressionism, and whose iconic "Haystacks" series recently sold for a record $110m at auction.
Born on 14 November 1840, Monet was earmarked to go into the family's grocery business. Monet had other ideas however, and with the support of his mother (a singer) he was allowed to pursue his love of the arts. In 1851, Monet entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts and on the beaches of Normandy, his mentor Boudin taught him "en plein air" (outdoor) techniques for painting.
In 1861, Monet was drafted into the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria for a seven-year period of military service but after a year he contracted typhoid and returned home to complete a course at Art School. Disillusioned with the traditional art taught at art schools, in 1862 Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris and together with several other artists, they shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light with broken colour and rapid brushstrokes.
Monet moved to England at the start of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and was inspired by the work of John Constable, who was also a landscape painter. The first Impressionist exhibition was held in 1874 with the primary purpose of freeing Monet and his fellow artists from the constraints of other famous exhibitions. It included groundbreaking artwork of Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, and Paul Cézanne featuring bright, vivid colours and loose, seemingly spontaneous brushwork. After a critic compared one of Monet’s paintings "Impression, Sunrise" (pictured) to an unfinished sketch (or "impression"), the term "Impressionists" caught on to describe the artists who displayed these radically different, new paintings.
Monet was married twice: to Camille Monet (née Doncieux) in 1870 and later the famously jealous Hoschedé. Between the two marriages they had eight children and Monet faced financial ruin at certain points in his life leading to struggles with his mental and physical health. In 1923, Monet underwent cataract surgery on his right eye but refused to have his left eye operated on. As a result, he could see violets and blues through his right eye but not his left. It is also believed that due to the removal of the lens, which filters out ultraviolet wavelengths, Monet began to perceive and paint a spectrum of colour typically unseen by the human eye.
Monet died of lung disease in 1926 at the age of 86 having created a total of 2,500 paintings (this is not including the hundreds he destroyed as he was often his own worst critic.) He has been described as "the driving force behind Impressionism" with his series on Haystacks, the Rouen Cathedral and Water Lillies some of his most famous work. Over 500,000 people each year visit Giverny to walk through the artist’s famous garden and refurbished home.
"To see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at."
Ms M Holian