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Claude Monet and Impressionism

Claude Monet and Impressionism

Born in Paris, France, in 1840, Claude Monet is considered the founder of impressionist style and philosophy in painting. Throughout his career, Monet portrayed consistence and prolific application of impressionism philosophy in his paintings, which emphasized on his perceptions of nature “as it is”. In fact, one of his early paintings, “the Impression Sunrise”, is considered the foundation of impressionist movement. Monet belied that his work was based on scientific study of life and nature (Rewald, 2009). Therefore, most of his works were paintings of various aspects of nature, especially landscapes and real-life scenarios in nature.

Monet’s painting “The Water Lilies” is an example of his work that portrays how Monet viewed and valued his nature. This painting indicates that the painter appreciated his nature and sought to present the aspect of nature as it appears in the natural world. The painting, which was done using oil on canvas style, depicts a natural scene in a Pond somewhere in France. It shows an aesthetic scene created by light reflection by water and several water lilies on the water surface. According to analysts, Monet used his view of nature with an aim of inspiring nature and increase human appreciation of the natural world.

It is most likely that Monet’s target audience was the public in general because it was probably meant to show off the beauty of the French pods to whoever views the work. The use of color in the painting indicates how the painter used different colors to depict nature. Light reflection by water under the water lilies is a major aspect of the painting and provides indication that Monet wanted to impress the audience with the beauty in their natural world. In fact, this 1919 painting was done during the last days of Monet’s work and life, having painted for over seventy years. During this time, Monet had already developed his impressionist idea and had decided to be painting natural scenes throughout his remaining days.

As aforementioned, Monet’s Water Lilies painting belongs to the impressionist era. Therefore, it is worth reviewing what this style and philosophy means in the 19th century art. Impressionism comes from the French term Impression, which was derived from Monet’s earlier work “Impression, soleil levent” (Impression, Sunrise). However, it is worth noting that Monet did not use this term to refer to his idea, but rather Louis Leroy, an art critic, used coined the term “Impressionism” to refer to the movement that was started by artists like Claude Monet (Rewald, 2009).

In paintings, Impressionist style has a number of unique characteristics that are worth mentioning. For instance, they have a relatively small size and a small thickness. In addition, the paintings use brush strokes that depict visible scenarios using a mixture of colors. Normally, the paintings depict use of bright colors that are appealing to the viewers eye, with an aim of attracting the human eye. The composition of the impression painting, as shown in The Water Lilies, is relatively open. In addition, these paintings emphasize on the use of light to show various aspects of the scene. The light fall on the objects on the surface, depicting the brightness of the colors used.

Colors are also applied side-by-side, a technique that was used to ensure a good mixing of colors to create an aesthetic and vibrant surface on a natural scene. Monet’s work also shows how complementary colors are used to obtain dark colors such as dark and grey tones. It is worth noting that Monet avoided black paint, but mixed complementary colors to achieve gray and dark tones.

Moreover, impressionism emphasizes on the subject matter. In this case, Monet’s work depicts nature “as it is” and the beautifulness associated with it. In addition, Impressionism in painting emphasized on time and space, where light was used to depict the nature as it appears during the day. Most impressionist painters avoided depicting scenarios at night (Denvir, 2010). This is one major aspect of impressionism, which Claude Monet has displayed in his Water Lilies painting.

Apart from Monet, a number of other artists took the advantage of the premixed paints available in the European market during the century. For example, Berthe Morisot’s “Reading” was painted in 1873 and depicts a women reading a book, probably a bible, while seated on grass in a natural field somewhere in France. Other examples include Camille Pissaro’s “Hay Harvest at Eragny” (1901) and Renoir’s “Girl with a Hoop” (1885).
Photos by Berthe Morisot’s Reading, 1873 (Denvir, 2010), Camille Pissarro’s Hay Harvest at Éragny, 1901 (Moskowitz & Sérullaz, 2009) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Girl with a Hoop, 1885 (Rewald, 2009) can attest to this.


Studying Monet’s life and work shows that the impression artists emphasized on common and natural objects and scenarios. The style avoids use of imaginations, which contradicts the earlier styles. In addition, they avoid religious and political topics in their work. The presentation of nature is achieved because premixed colors were readily available in the market. These are issues worth learning.
The study of impressionism style using such examples as Water Lilies has improved the way I view the natural world. It has shown that an emphasis on representing the natural world attracts human attention. In addition, I realize that people should appreciate their natural world. Therefore, Monet’s Water Lilies can be rated 9 out of 10 because it is simple yet attractive. In addition, it depicts things that are there in our natural world, yet we pay little attention. It should also be rated high because it acts as a way of inspiring people to protect their environment. The painting means that students of art should focus on simple but important aspects of life. In my research, I would like to learn how impressionist artists changed the way we view our nature and how they inspire modern art.

Denvir, B. (2010). The Thames and Hudson Encyclopaedia of Impressionism. London: Thames and Hudson
Moskowitz, I., & Sérullaz, M. (2009). French Impressionists: A Selection of Drawings of the French 19th Century. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company
Rewald, J. (2009). The History of Impressionism. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

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