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Updated: Oct 9, 2020


Oscar-Claude Monet 1840 – 1926, was a co-founder of French Impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to Plein-Air landscape painting. The term "Impressionism" is derived from the title of his painting “Impression, Soleil Levant “(Impression of Sunrise), which was exhibited in 1874 in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his associates as an alternative to the Salon De Paris. They were considered rebels who blatantly created paintings outside of the established norm of realism. The primary purpose of the participants was not so much to promote a new style, but to free themselves from the constraints of the Salon De Paris

Monet's ambition of documenting the French countryside led him to adopt a method of painting the same scene many times in order to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. From 1883 Monet and his family lived outside of Paris in the countryside village of Giverny, where he purchased a house and property. He began a vast landscaping project which included lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life. The family worked and built up the gardens, and as Monet's fortunes began to change for the better, he hired seven gardeners to help expand the gardens. Monet wrote daily instructions to them with precise designs and layouts for plantings. His garden became his most famous work of art. Most of his paintings were of the pond and garden. He developed a completely new, fluid, and relaxed style of painting in which the water-lily pond was the focal point for near abstract works of art.

Portland Art Museum has one of Monet’s water lily paintings in their permanent collection.