Claude Monet (French, 1840—1926) was one of the founders and the best-known artists of the popular style now known as Impressionism.
His training and early career began in the usual academic way, with an emphasis on the historical, religious, and mythological subjects that were considered worthy of “high art.” In the 1860s, Monet and other young artists began to meet at a Paris café to plan a rebellion against the limitations of the academic tradition. They organized the first Salon des Refusés (SALL-ohn deh reh-foo-ZAY) or “Exhibition of Rejects,” in Paris in 1863 as a parallel exhibition to the official academic Salon, when over 3,000 artworks did not meet the strict standards of acceptable subjects and were rejected. Monet’s submission to a later Salon des Refusés in 1874, an ethereal painting entitled Impression, Sunrise, gained him and the other “Impressionists” ridicule and sarcasm.
Despite this poor initial public reception, Monet and Impressionism went on to acceptance and great success by the 1880s. Monet became very wealthy, and traveled to Paris, London, and the Netherlands before retiring to Argenteuil, northwest of Paris, and then Giverny. His late paintings, garden scenes of water lilies, willow trees, and Japanese-style bridges, are some of his best-known and beloved works.