Fact is, Monet helped a gallery owner and critic, Louis Leroy, coin the term "Impressionism". Leroy had thought Monet's original title of "Sunrise" for his sunrise landscape too boring, and with Leroy's probing into Monet's style and inspiration, it became "Impression of Sunrise".
The Impressionists famously never used the colour black in any of their work. Instead they created their dark palette with mixes of blues, reds and greens. For they believed that even shadows are forms of light, and deserved to be expressed in colour.
What amazes me is the fact that he continued painting and produced some of his finest work, even as he went increasingly blind with cataracts, well into his sixties.
Below are two paintings of the same subject, the Japanese Bridge in his garden. The one entilted "Japanese Bridge" was done in 1899. The one below that, in 1923, when his cataracts had gotten the better of his sight.
"My bad sight means that I see everything through a mist. Even so it is beautiful, and that's what I would like to show."
- Claude Monet
Interestingly, Monet's cataracts filtered the colours he perceived and, because he painted what he saw, he gradually began to abandon his blues, and his paintings became increasingly awash in reds and yellows. Fact it, he didn't need to be able to see the Japanese Bridge. He was happy just enjoying the light of it.
By the end of 1922, Money could no longer see enough to paint, and so he stopped. Under the advice of his good friend George Clemenceau, he underwent an operation, and managed to regain sight in his right eye, with the help of special glasses. But he refused have his left eye operated.
Thus, Monet resumed painting. With the operated right eye seeing in blue, and the ailing cataract left eye seeing in reds and yellows. The result is below, "The House Seen From The Roses Garden". This was his first painting after the operation on his right eye.
The House Seen from the Rose Garden, c. 1922
My personal favourite Monet remains "Garden Path at Giverny" done in 1902. I love the vibrant colours, the speckly bits that seem like every single little flower and bud is swaying in the breeze, and the way I can almost breathe in the fresh air of the very garden path. It holds a certain peace, glorious yet humble, celebratory and appreciative, all reflected in both Monet's surroundings and his life. I swear I border on tears everytime I scrutinise this.
(Plus I can SO see a pair of chandeliers earrings, of mandarin and rhodolite garnets, peridots, amethysts, freshwater pearls, carnelians, iolites, hessonites... ah, GORGEOUS!)
More than anything else though, I like the entire circumstance under which this painting was done. Monet was in his fifties, and had by now, earned himself enough money to live comfortably with his family in a sprawling countryside estate. He was as far away from the standard image of "starving/womanising/scandal-ridden/drug-addict" artist as you can get. Instead, he was financially sound, with a loving wife and family. You could also say he defied the norm by being a "blind" artist!He passed the rest of his time and days cultivating, designing and landscaping his gorgeous garden grounds, with the help of gardeners and landscape artists. All so that he could enjoy putting it down on canvas, as how he saw light hit them. With or without cataracts.
Monet passed away peacefully on 5 December 1926, having completed his last painting just a few months before.