Art Monet Claude Monet and Water Lilies Term Paper

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Claude Monet and Water Lilies

This research paper aims to discuss one of the better known impressionist artists, Claude Monet and his rendition series, one of the 'Water Lilies' on display in the Toledo Museum of Art. This research piece combines information about the life and works of the artist as well as the famous series of 48 landscapes started shortly before the armistice of World War I. Obviously, when one discusses Monet, he or she can be assumed to be thinking or talking about Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Rome or New York. Certainly Toledo, Ohio would never come to mind. This research shows that Toledo has to be known for more than just the actor Jamie Farr's character on the old television series now in heavy rerun, Mash 4077. Yes, Toledo is more than just Maxwell Q. Klinger. Toledo holds just one of the many examples of a true genius, Claude Monet. "Get as close as you like to the nubbly surfaces of the triptych, with its candid brushstrokes that skitter and clot; your gaze will stay drenched in an aqueous sublime." (Schjeldahl)

"Self-Portrait, Claude Monet 1917, oil on canvas 70 x 55 cm, Musee'd Orsay, Paris France" (Interagir)

So why Toledo? Apparently, there is more to this picture than meets the eye. "The Toledo Museum of Art collection of more than 30,000 works of art ranks among the finest in the United States. In our more than 35 galleries, Sculpture Garden, and new Glass Pavilion, discover important, popular, and outstanding works of art, including paintings and sculptures by Bearden, Cezanne, Calder, Close, Cole, Degas, van Gogh, El Greco, Holbein, Kiefer, Matisse, Miro, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Turner; masterworks from antiquity and Asia; decorative arts; and highlights from our renowned glass collection." (Toledo Museum of Art)

The Toledo Museum of Art is a work of art in and of itself. The physical structure was founded back in 1901 and the museum has built a global reputation for housing one of the most complete collections of quality art works. The curator and facility are known for their 'innovative education programs and architecturally significant campus.' They have a great motto: "Within this celebrated environment, we invite you to personally discover the power of art: to delight, to inspire, to engage, and even to transform viewers of all ages and backgrounds." (Toledo Museum of Art)

If the Toledo Museum of art has such a great reputation, then having a few Monet's proudly displayed in their facility must mean a great deal about this particular artist and his works. Claude Monet has been considered to be one of the greatest figures among all of the very talented line of Impressionists. Ironically, the actual term 'Impressionism' was actually coined because of one of Monet's other work series, 'Impression: Sunrise.' There are rumors that the curators who were exhibiting some of his works in 1874 needed a name for his catalogue and the author himself suggested that they simply call the series, 'Impression.' It is also rumored that the then catalogue editor, the artist Renoir's brother Edouard, was credited for adding the descriptive term -- Sunrise. Whether or not these rumors are true is beyond the scope of this work, but it does add for an interesting twist.

What are known as facts are the basic nuances of the artist's life. For example, it is common knowledge that Claude Monet was born in Paris France on November 14, 1840 and that when he was five, his family relocated to Le Havre where it was well documented that he had already by this time developed a reputation for very detailed caricatures he drew. So the artist was a prodigy early on. This helped him to meet exceptional teachers, peers and mentors throughout his life such as Eugene Boudin, all of them in one way or another helped him develop his techniques such as to encourage him to paint in natural outdoor settings.

After a good education in Paris and his starting his own family a few years later, some issues that rarely if ever get mentioned about his life and work come to the surface. Like Van Gogh, it is a possibility that Claude Monet seemed to suffer from some atypical mental disorder, possibly what would today be considered manic depression or bipolar. In 1868, "Monet tries to commit suicide. He receives a pension from Mr. Gaudibert. He paints in Fecamp and Etretat." (InterMonet) The pattern emerged in his travels, his friendships and his work. The artist seemed to work all out or to be completely isolated. But he had a long career of this on again off again relationship with his passion. In deed -- he worked all out, but only his work could live forever, he died on December 5, 1926.

An unprofessional diagnosis might suggest that he worked in a state of mania and retreated during times of despair. The important thing to note, when he was working, he really created some amazing stuff. Some of the most important years of output for the artist came between 1916 and 1926. "Claude Monet works on twelve large canvases, The Water Lilies. Following the signing of the Armistice, Monet offers to donate them to France. These paintings will be installed in an architectural space designed specifically for them at the museum of the Orangerie in Paris." (InterMonet) The Toledo Museum of Art now holds one of these outstanding masterpieces. This is a picture taken in 2007 of the actual 'Water Lilies' by Claude Monet hanging in the Toledo Museum of Art.


This piece demonstrates all of the unique uses of color and brush strokes that make a Monet so different from all of the other great artists. "Pinkish summer clouds aren't so much reflected as drowned in turquoise, violet, and mud-green depths. Monet knew palpably, at each point, what all his colors were up to. Everything answers, resoundingly, to everything else. The tone of the next biggest, single-panel panorama is a soprano, silvery shimmer, suggesting water less than polychrome steam." (Schjeldahl) It is a great example of Monet's Impressionistic style. Art lovers have to consider that in 1907, Monet began to suffer from cataracts. This was shortly after he completed the 48 landscapes known as Water Lilies which were painted sometime around 1904 through 1906. They were first exhibited at Durand-Ruel to raving fans and a great appreciation by the art community of the time.

But what is meant by Impressionism? Impressionism is simply a theory or style of painting. The movement was kind of an outcast or anti-academia type of movement that for a time had to establish its own venues for showing and selling paintings. The official Salons of Paris were not overly enthusiastic at first. As discussed, Impressionism originated in France in the 1870's and can be characterized by the deliberation of a complete visual impression. In other words, the works that are called Impressionistic are those works that produce a scene for the observer that is a combination of often unmixed primary colors and many small brush strokes, often circular in nature, that somehow magically simulate reflected light. When one sees a Monet up close, the brush strokes are clear and easily distinguished from one another. Up close, it looks as though the actual picture should not be possible, that it should be blurry like an unfocused camera shot. But, a single step back and the brush strokes seem to disappear into the picture as a whole, somehow more clear than a focused camera shot. There were many successful Impressionist artists. "These artists include Frederic Bazille, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, as well as Mary Cassatt, Gustave Caillebotte (who was also an important early collector),…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Art Encyclopedia. (2009). Impressionism. Ed. Retrieved on October 30, 2009, from

Flicker. (2007). Monet Water Lilies. Ed. Toledo Museum of Art. Retrieved on October 30, 2009, from

InterAgir. (2009). Claude Monte: Self-Portrait. Ed. Toledo Museum of Art. Retrieved on October 30, 2009, from

InterMonet. (2009). Biography of Claude Monet. Retrieved on October 30, 2009, from

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