Claude Monet

Etretat – The Artists – Monet, Claude

This page forms part of a series of pages dedicated to the many artists who worked in Etretat. A full list of all the artists with a link to their works can be found at the bottom of this page.

Claude Monet
Claude Monet

Claude Monet (1840-1926) is without any doubt the most famous impressionist painter. He started the movement, and he was the master of it.

Monet was a 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, 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.

Impression, Sunrise was painted in 1872, depicting a Le Havre port landscape. From the painting’s title the art critic Louis Leroy, in his review, “L’Exposition des Impressionnistes,” which appeared in Le Charivari, coined the term “Impressionism”. It was intended as disparagement but the Impressionists appropriated the term for themselves.

He was the second son of Claude Adolphe Monet and Louise Justine Aubrée Monet, both of them second-generation Parisians. On 20 May 1841, he was baptized in the local parish church, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. Despite being baptized Catholic, Monet later became an atheist.

In 1845, his family moved to Le Havre in Normandy. His father wanted him to go into the family’s ship-chandling and grocery business, but Monet wanted to become an artist. His mother was a singer, and supported Monet’s desire for a career in art.

On the beaches of Normandy around 1856 he met fellow artist Eugene Boudin, who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints. Boudin taught Monet “en plein air” (outdoor) techniques for painting. Both were influenced by Johan Barthold Jongkind.

After drawing a low ballot number in March 1861, Monet was drafted into the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry (Chasseurs d’Afrique) in Algeria for a seven-year period of military service. His prosperous father could have purchased Monet’s exemption from conscription but declined to do so when his son refused to give up painting. While in Algeria, Monet did only a few sketches of casbah scenes, a single landscape, and several portraits of officers, all of which have been lost. In a Le Temps interview of 1900 however he commented that the light and vivid colours of North Africa “contained the germ of my future researches“. After about a year of garrison duty in Algiers, Monet contracted typhoid fever and briefly went absent without leave.

Following convalescence, Monet’s aunt intervened to remove him from the army if he agreed to complete a course at an art school. It is possible that the Dutch painter Johan Barthold Jongkind, whom Monet knew, may have prompted his aunt on this matter.

In 1876, Camille Monet became ill with tuberculosis. Their second son, Michel, was born on 17 March 1878. This second child weakened her already fading health. In the summer of that year, the family moved to the village of Vétheuil where they shared a house with the family of Ernest Hoschede, a wealthy department store owner and patron of the arts. In 1878, Camille Monet was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She died on 5 September 1879 at the age of thirty-two.

After several difficult months following the death of Camille, Monet began to create some of his best paintings of the 19th century. During the early 1880s, Monet painted several groups of landscapes and seascapes in what he considered to be campaigns to document the French countryside. These began to evolve into series of pictures in which he documented the same scene many times in order to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons.

At the beginning of May 1883 Monet and his large family rented a house and gardens in Giverny from a local landowner. The house was situated near the main road between the towns of Vernon and Gasny at Giverny. There was a barn that doubled as a painting studio, orchards and a small garden. The house was close enough to the local schools for the children to attend, and the surrounding landscape offered many suitable motifs for Monet’s work.

Monet purchased additional land with a water meadow. In 1893 he began a vast landscaping project which included lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. White water lilies local to France were planted along with imported cultivars from South America and Egypt, resulting in a range of colours including yellow, blue and white lilies that turned pink with age.

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. This scenery, with its alternating light and mirror-like reflections, became an integral part of his work.

Monet died of lung cancer on 5 December 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. Monet had insisted that the occasion be simple; thus only about fifty people attended the ceremony. At his funeral, his long-time friend Georges Clemenceau removed the black cloth draped over the coffin, stating, “No black for Monet!” and replaced it with a flower-patterned cloth.

Monet did not leave a will and so his son Michel inherited his entire estate. Monet’s home, garden, and waterlily pond were bequeathed by Michel to the French Academy of Fine Arts (part of the Institut de France) in 1966. Through the Fondation Claude Monet, the house and gardens were opened for visits in 1980, following restoration.

In addition to souvenirs of Monet and other objects of his life, the house contains his collection of Japanese woodcut prints. The house and garden, along with the Museum of Impressionism, are major attractions in Giverny, which hosts tourists from all over the world.

Click here to read Monet‘s full bio on Wikipedia.

NOTE: Click on any image below for a bigger version (no new window will open).

NOTE: A black box like this one, means that there is an explanation text about today’s situation of the painting above it.
NOTE: Click on this photo icon anywhere below a painting to see a photo of what the area looks like today.

NOTE: A blue box like this one, means there is an explanation or a note.

1864 - Claude Monet - Etretat
1864 – Claude Monet – Etretat
1868 - Claude Monet - Etretat, ,-le-Perrey,-the-Port-d'Amont
1868 – Claude Monet – Etretat, the Perrey, the Porte d’Amont

NOTE: The Perrey is the area where you can walk alongside the sea, nowadays a concrete promenade.

1869 - Claude Monet - Rough sea at Etretat
1869 – Claude Monet – Rough sea at Etretat
1873 - Claude Monet - Fishing boats at Etretat
1873 – Claude Monet – Fishing boats at Etretat

NOTE: Etretat does not have an harbor but has fishing boats. They are dragged onto the beach when not in use.

1873 - Claude Monet - Port d'Amont Etretat
1873 – Claude Monet – Porte d’Amont Etretat

NOTE: The Porte d’Amont is a sea arch that lies to the right of the beach of Etretat.

1882 - Claude Monet - Boats on the beach
1882 – Claude Monet – Boats on the beach
1882 - Claude Monet - Seascape near Etretat
1882 – Claude Monet – Seascape near Etretat
1882 - Claude Monet - The Manneport
1882 – Claude Monet – The Manneport

NOTE: The Manneport sea arch lies to the left (South/East) of the Porte d’Aval sea arch. It is Etretat’s third sea arch.

1883 - Claude Monet - Beach at Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – Beach at Etretat
1883 - Claude Monet - Boats on the beach at Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – Boats on the beach at Etretat

NOTE: You can see the Porte d’Amont sea arch in the distance.

1883 - Claude Monet - Cliff and Port d'Aval in stormy weather
1883 – Claude Monet – Cliff and Porte d’Aval in stormy weather

TODAY: The Porte d’Aval is the most visible of three sea arches at Etretat. It lies to the left of the Etretat beach.

1883 - Claude Monet - Effect of waves at Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – Effect of waves at Etretat
1883 - Claude Monet - Etretat, rough sea
1883 – Claude Monet – Etretat, rough sea
1883 - Claude Monet - Fishing boats on the beach
1883 – Claude Monet – Fishing boats on the beach
1883 - Claude Monet - Morning at Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – Morning at Etretat
1883 - Claude Monet - Porte d'Aval, rough sea
1883 – Claude Monet – Porte d’Aval, rough sea
1883 - Claude Monet - Rough weather at Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – Rough weather at Etretat
1883 - Claude Monet - Stormy sea in Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – Stormy sea in Etretat
1883 - Claude Monet - Sunset at Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – Sunset at Etretat
1883 - Claude Monet - The Manneport cliff at Etretat, Sunset
1883 – Claude Monet – The Manneport cliff at Etretat, Sunset
1883 - Claude Monet - The Manneport cliff at Etretat
1883 – Claude Monet – The Manneport cliff at Etretat
1883 - Claude Monet - The Manneport seen from below
1883 – Claude Monet – The Manneport seen from below
1883 - Claude Monet - The Manneport
1883 – Claude Monet – The Manneport
1883 - Claude Monet - The Needle (Aiguille) of Etretat, low tide
1883 – Claude Monet – The Needle (Aiguille) of Etretat, low tide

NOTE: The Aiguille (=needle) lies slightly behind the Porte d’Aval sea arch and can be seen from the beach of Etretat.

1884 - Claude Monet - Etretat, the beach and the Porte d'Aval
1884 – Claude Monet – Etretat, the beach and the Porte d’Aval
1885 - Claude Monet - Boats on the beach at Etretat
1885 – Claude Monet – Boats on the beach at Etretat

NOTE: The huts you see are called “caloge” which are former fishing boats, covered with a roof, used to keep fishing materials dry.

1885 - Claude Monet - Cliffs at Amont
1885 – Claude Monet – Cliffs at Amont
1885 - Claude Monet - Cliffs of the Porte d'Aval
1885 – Claude Monet – Cliffs of the Porte d’Aval

TODAY: There is a hiking path that goes all the way up the cliff. From the top you can see the Porte d’Aval sea arch, the Mannporte sea arch and the Amont sea arch.

1885 - Claude Monet - Etretat the Aval Porte, Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbour
1885 – Claude Monet – Etretat – the Aval Porte, Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbour
1885 - Claude Monet - Etretat cliff of Aval, sunset
1885 – Claude Monet – Etretat cliff of Aval, sunset
1885 - Claude Monet - Fishing boat in Etretat
1885 – Claude Monet – Fishing boat in Etretat
1885 - Claude Monet - Sailboats behind the Aiguille at Etretat
1885 – Claude Monet – Sailboats behind the Aiguille at Etretat
1885 - Claude Monet - Study of boats on the beach of Etretat
1885 – Claude Monet – Study of boats on the beach of Etretat
1885 - Claude Monet - The beach and the Amont cliffs
1885 – Claude Monet – The beach and the Amont cliffs
1885 - Claude Monet - The cliffs at Etretat
1885 – Claude Monet – The cliffs at Etretat
1885 - Claude Monet - The departure of the boats, Etretat
1885 – Claude Monet – The departure of the boats, Etretat
1885 - Claude Monet - The Manneport at high tide
1885 – Claude Monet – The Manneport at high tide
1885 - Claude Monet - The Manneport seen from the East
1885 – Claude Monet – The Manneport seen from the East
1885 - Claude Monet - The Porte d'Aval
1885 – Claude Monet – The Porte d’Aval
1885 - Claude Monet - The Manneport reflections of water
1885 – Claude Monet – The Manneport reflections of water
1885 - Claude Monet - The Rock Needle and Porte d'Aval, Etretat
1885 – Claude Monet – The Rock Needle and Porte d’Aval, Etretat
1885 - Claude Monet - The Rock Needle and Porte d'Aval
1885 – Claude Monet – The Rock Needle and Porte d’Aval
1885 - Claude Monet - The Rock Needle seen through the Porte d'Amont
1885 – Claude Monet – The Rock Needle seen through the Porte d’Amont
1885 - Claude Monet - Three fishing boats
1885 – Claude Monet – Three fishing boats
1886 - Claude Monet - Etretat in the rain
1886 – Claude Monet – Etretat in the rain
1886 - Claude Monet - Etretat, Amont cliff, rough weather
1886 – Claude Monet – Etretat, Amont cliff, rough weather
1886 - Claude Monet - The cliffs at Etretat
1886 – Claude Monet – The cliffs at Etretat
1886 - Claude Monet - The Manneport near Etretat
1886 – Claude Monet – The Manneport near Etretat
1886 - Claude Monet - The Rock Needle and the Porte d'Aval
1886 – Claude Monet – The Rock Needle and the Porte d’Aval
1886 - Claude Monet - The Rock Needle seen through the Porte d'Aval
1886 – Claude Monet – The Rock Needle seen through the Porte d’Aval
1886 - Claude Monet - The Rock Needle seen through the Porte d'Aval
1886 – Claude Monet – The Rock Needle seen through the Porte d’Aval
1890 - Claude Monet - Fishing boats, Etretat
1890 – Claude Monet – Fishing boats, Etretat
1926 - Claude Monet - Porte d'Aval
1926 – Claude Monet – Porte d’Aval
???? - Claude Monet - Etretat, Aiguille and Porte dAval, Setting Sun
???? – Claude Monet – Etretat, Aiguille and Porte dAval, Setting Sun
???? - Claude Monet - Etretat, Cap d'Antifer
???? – Claude Monet – Etretat, Cap d’Antifer

NOTE: The Cap d’Antifer lies next to Etretat and is the home of a large lighthouse.

Monet painted throughout Normandy. More of his Normandy and France based works will appear on this site, and a link “” to those painting will appear below.

Etretat is the second most popular and visited place in Normandy (the first being Mont Saint-Michel). And since it was popular, many artists came here to be inspired by its nature and scenic environments. Here is a list of artists who worked in Etretat (a link “⇠” to their work will appear when published).

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Today: Fishing fleet dragged on land
Today: Fishing fleet dragged on land
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Today: Porte d'Amont seen from the beach
Today: Porte d’Amont seen from the beach
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Today: Porte d'Aval seen from the beach
Today: Porte d’Aval seen from the beach
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Today: The Porte d'Aval and the Aiguille (needle)
Today: The Porte d’Aval and the Aiguille (needle)
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