Claude Monet

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Self-portrait in Beret, 1886

Oscar-Claude Monet (November 14, 1840 – December 5, 1926) was a French painter, and founder of French Impressionist painting movement. Impressionism expresses one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term "Impressionism" was 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.

Quotes[edit]

Quotes are arranged in chronological order

1850 - 1870[edit]

View At Rouelles, Le Havre (1858).
Mouth of the Seine at Honfleur, 1865
Woman in a Garden, 1867
The Magpie, 1868–1869. Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Bain à la Grenouillère (1869)
"I have a dream a picture of the bathing spot at the Grenouillere, for which I've made a few poor sketches, but it is a dream."
-- Monet, Sept. 25, 1869
  • I am surrounded by a small group of young landscapists who will be very happy get to know you. Besides, they are real painters... I find myself very well fixed here. I am drawing figures at hard. And at the Academy, there are only landscapists. They begin to perceive that it's a good thing.
  • Among Troyon's paintings there are two huge ones; Return to the Farm is marvelous with its beautiful stormy sky. There is much windy motion in the clouds, and the cows and dogs are very good. In Going to the Market you see the mist at sunrise. It's superb and, most of all, very luminous. The wide space in View from Surennes is amazing. You feel you are really in the countryside
    • 1859 letter to Eugène Boudin, June 3, 1859; Cited in Rodolphe Rapetti (1990) Monet, p. 11: Monet wrote to Boudin just he had visited the 1859 Salon.
  • By way of news, I can tell you that Couture, that bad-tempered fellow, has completely given up painting. It’s no great pity; in this exhibition, he had some really bad paintings.
    • 1860 letter to Eugène Boudin, February 10, 1860: As cited in: Angelika Taschen (1999) Monet, p. 24
  • It is beautiful here [in Etretat, Normandy], my friend; every day I discover even more beautiful things. It is intoxicating me, and I want to paint it all - my head is bursting.. ..I want to fight, scratch it off, start again, because I start to see and understand. I seems to me as if I can see nature and I can catch it all.. ..it is by observation and reflection that I discover how. That is what we are working on, continuously..
    • 1864 letter to his friend Frédéric Bazille; as quoted in Monet's landschappen Vivian Rusell; Icob, Alphen aan de Rijn, The Netherlands 2010, p. 12
  • I’m very happy, very delighted.. ..for I am surrounded here by all that I love. I spent my time out of doors.. ..and naturally I’m working all the time, and I think this year I’m going to do some serious things. And then in the evening, dear fellow, I come home to my little cottage to find a good fire and a dear little family.. ..Dear friend, it’s a delight to watch this person [his first son Jean, born in 1867] grow, and I am glad to have him to be sure...
    • 1868 letter to Frédéric Bazille: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 22.
  • My dear Bazille, I ask myself what you can be doing in Paris during fine weather, for I suppose that it must also be very fine there. Here my dear fellow, it is is charming, and I discover every day always beautiful things. It is enough to become mad [fou], so much do I have the desire to do it all, my head is cracking. Damn it, here it is the sixteenth, put aside your cliques and your claques, and come spend a couple of weeks here, it would be the best thing that you could do, because in Paris it cannot be very easy to work.
    This very day, I still have a month to stay in Honfleur; furthermore my sketches are becoming finished, I have even set to work additionally [remis] on some others. In sum, I am content enough with my stay here, even though my studies are very far from what I would wish. It is decidedly frightfully difficult to make something complete in all respects, and I think that there are scarcely any but those who content themselves with the approximate. Very well, my dear fellow, I want to struggle, scrape, start over again [recommencer], because one can do what one sees and understands, and it seems to me, when I see nature, that I am going to do it all, write it all out, but them go try to do it... when one is on the job...
    All this proves that one must only think about this. It is by force of observation and reflection that one finds. So let us grind away and grind away constantly. Are you making any progress? Yes, I am sure of it, but what I am sure of is that you do not work enough and not in the right way. It is not with carefree guys like your Villa and others that you will be able to work. It would be better all alone, and yet, all alone there are plenty of things that one cannot make out. In the end all of this is terrible, and it is a rough task.
    ... It is frightening what I see in my head.
    • 1864 letter to Frédéric Bazille from Honfleur, July 15, 1864; As cited in: Mary M. Gedo (2013) Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art. p. 114-15
    • Other quote from same letter:
      It seems to me, when I see nature, that I see it ready made, completely written — but then, try to do it! All this proves that one must think of nothing but them [impressions]; it is by dint of observation and reflection that one makes discoveries.
      • 1864 letter to Frédéric Bazille from Honfleur, July 15, 1864; As cited in: Joyce Medina (1995) Cezanne and Modernism: The Poetics of Painting. p. 60
  • There at the moment in Honfleur... Boudin and Jongkind are here; we get on marvellously.... There's lots to be learned and nature begins to grow beautiful.. I shall tell you I'm sending a flower picture to the exhibition at Rouen; there are very beautiful flowers at present.
    • 1864 letter to Frédéric Bazille; As cited in: Edward B. Henning, Cleveland Museum of Art. Creativity in art and science, 1860-1960. (1987), p. 95
  • One is too taken up with all that one sees and hears in Paris, however strong one is, and what I do here will at least have the merit of being unlike anyone else, at least I believe so, because it will simply be the expression of what I, and only I have felt. The further I get, the more I regret how little I know, that’s what hinders me the most.. ..I don’t think I will spend much time in Paris now, a month at the very most, each year.
    • 1868 letter to Frédéric Bazille; as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 31.
  • In Paris one is too preoccupied by what one sees and what one hears, however strong one is; what I am doing here has, I think, the merit of not resembling anyone, because it is simply the expression of what I myself have experienced.
    • 1868 letter to Frédéric Bazille from Etretat, December 1868; As cited in: Mary Tompkins Lewis (2007) Critical Readings in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. p. 83
  • [Chopping wood] is harder than you think, and I'll bet that you would not split much wood... All the same, I have probably not reached the end of my troubles. Here is winter at hand, a season not very pleasant for the wretched. Then comes the Salon. Alas! I still won't be in it, for I shall have done nothing. I have a dream a picture of the bathing spot at the Grenouillere, for which I've made a few poor sketches, but it is a dream. Renoir, who has just spent two months here, also wants to do this painting.
    • 1869 letter to Frédéric Bazille, September 25, 1869; As cited in: Bonafoux (1986, 72), cited in Michael P. Farrell (2003) Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics and Creative Work. p. 42

1870 - 1890[edit]

Springtime, 1872
Bridge in Argenteuil, 1874
  • My dear Pissarro, Forgive me for not answering your first letter earlier, but I 'm starting to work full steam ahead and have hardly any time. I received your second letter this morning and I see that you are going to great pains on my behalf and getting nowhere: I'm sorry to be giving you so much trouble; so drop the whole thing, and I'll ask Durand-Ruel if he could see to it for me, he might be able to get rid of these damn frames.
    I see that you are definitely going to leave that delightful country for good. Where are you going to, Paris or Louveciennes? I hope you'll write and let me know...
    • 1871 letter from Zaandam to Camille Pissarro (still in England), 17 June 1871; Cited in: Marianne Alphant (1994), Claude Monet en Holland, p. 87
  • There are the most amusing things everywhere. Houses of every colour, hundreds of windmills and enchanting boats, extremely friendly Dutchmen who almost all speak French.... I have not had time to visit the museums, I wish to work first of all and I'll treat myself to that later.
    • 1871 Letter to Camille Pissarro, 17 June 1871; First part cited in: Van Gogh Museum Journal 2001 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam 2001. p. 140; Second part cited in: Ann Dumas, ‎Denver Art Museum, ‎High Museum of Art (2007), Inspiring Impressionism: : the Impressionists and the art of the past. p. 181
  • A group of painters assembled in my home, read with pleasure the article you published in 'L'Avenir national'. We are all very pleased to see you defend ideas which are also ours, and we hope that, as you say, 'L'Avenir national' will kindly lend us its support when the Society we are in the process of forming is finally established [ forming a new artist-group, to organize an independent and concurrent exhibition, an alternative exhibition for the official yearly (rather classical) Paris Salon].
    • 1873 Letter to Paul Alexis, May 1873; as quoted in Sue Roe, The private live of the Impressionists, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 120
  • I've got it... the Saint Lazare [station in Paris, then]. I'll show it just as the trains are starting, with smoke from the engines so thick you can hardly see a thing. It's a fascinating sight, a real dream. I'll get them [the station office] to delay the train for Rouen for half an hour. The light will be better then.
    • Monet's remark to Renoir (who responded: you are mad!) in January 1877; as quoted in The private live of the Impressionists Sue Roe; HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 173
  • My dear Hoschedé, I do not know if in Paris it is the same weather as here, it is probable and so you will be able to understand my discouragement. I am heartbroken, and I absolutely must share with you all my disillusionment; for nearly two months, I have given myself a lot of trouble without result. You do not believe it perhaps, but it is so: I have not lost an hour and would have reproached myself to have taken even a day to come see our exhibition, just out of the fear of losing a single good painting session, an hour of sun. I alone can know my anxieties and the trouble that I give myself to finish canvases that don't even satisfy me and please so few people. In a word, I am absolutely discouraged, not seeing, not hoping in any future... I feel all too well the void that is being made around me and the impossibility of facing up to my part of our expenses if we were to continue living together... I see everything in black, in pain... Please believe all the sorrow that I have in causing you trouble.
    • 1879 letter to Ernest Hoschedé, May 15, 1879 (W, letter, 158); as cited in: Mary M. Gedo (2013) Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art. p. 123
  • ..watching her tragic forehead, almost mechanically observing the colors which death was imposing on her rigid face. Blue. Blue, yellows, grey, what do I know? .. ..How natural to to want to reproduce the last image of her, who was leaving us for ever.But even before the idea came to me to record her beloved features, something in me automatically responded tot the shocks of colours. I just seem to be compelled in an unconsciousness activity, the one I engage in every day, like an animal turning in its mill.
    • In a letter, September 1879; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 209
  • I am absolutely sickened with and demoralized by this life, I've been leading for so long. When you get to my age, there is nothing more to look forward to. Unhappy we are, unhappy we'll stay. Each day brings its tribulations and each day difficulties arise.. .So I'm giving up the struggle once and for all, abandoning all hope of success. .. ..I hear my friends are preparing another exhibition this year [the Impressionists, in Paris, 1880] but I'm ruling out the possibility of participating in it, as I just don't have anything worth showing.
    • 1879 letter to George de Bellio, September 1879; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, pp. 202-203; also parly cited in: Jane Kinsman, Michael Pantazzi, National Gallery of Australia. Degas: the uncontested master, National Gallery of Australia, 7 apr. 2009. p. 25
  • I can’t hold out any longer and am in a state of utter despair. After a few days of good weather, it’s raining again and once again I have had to put the studies I started to one side. It’s driving me to distraction and the unfortunate thing is that I take it out on my poor paintings. I destroyed a large picture of flowers which I’d just done along with three or four paintings which I not only scraped down but slashed. This is absurd.. ..Please be kind enough to have some money forwarded to me.
    • In a letter from Pourville circa 1882, to his buyer Durand-Ruel; as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 50
  • The sea is superb, but the cliffs don't match up to those at Fecamp. Here I'll be certain to do more boats.
    • Claude Monet in letter from Dieppe; As quoted in: Howard F. Isham (2004) Image of the Sea: Oceanic Consciousness in the Romantic Century. p. 336 : About his 1880s travels
  • I won’t be here long, I am working as hard as I can, as I told you [in a letter] yesterday, I am very happy to be here [Etretat, Normandy] and I hope to come up with something good, in any case I will bring lots of studies back with me so I can work on some big things at home.
    • In his letter from Etretat to his second (future) wife Alice Hoschedé, 1883; as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 51
  • Once settled, I hope to produce masterpieces, because I like the countryside very much.
  • I insist upon 'doing it alone'. Much as I enjoyed making the trip there with Renoir as a tourist, I’d find it hard to work there together. I have always worked better alone and from my own impressions.. ..If he {Renoir] knew I was about to go, Renoir would doubtless want to join me and that would be equally disastrous for both of us.
    • In a letter to his art-buyer Durand-Ruel in Paris, 1884; as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 51
    • Monet is painting then in Northern Italy then, on the edge of the Mediterranean.
  • These palms are driving me crazy; the motifs are extremely difficult to seize, to put on canvas; it's so bushy everywhere, although delightful to the eye... I would like to do orange and lemon trees silhouetted against the blue sea, but cannot find them as I would like.
    • 1884 letter from Bordighera to friends in Paris, January 1884; as quoted in: Joslyn Art Museum, ‎Holliday T. Day, ‎Hollister Sturges (1987), Joslyn Art Museum: Paintings and Sculpture from the European and American Collections, p. 100
  • I climb up, go down again, then climb up once more; between all my studies, as a relaxation I explore every footpath, always curious to see something new.
    • In his letter from Bordighera (ca. 1884); as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 52
  • I hired a good carriage and had myself driven to Menton, a delightful outing of several hours. Menton is wonderful and is in a splendid setting. I walked to Cap Martin, a famous spot between Menton and Monte Carlo. I saw two motifs there that I want to paint because they are so different from things here, where the sea plays no big part in my studies, where the sea plays no big plays no big part in my studies.
    • Letter to Alice Hoschedé, 1884; As cited in: Christoph Heinrich, Monet, (2000), p. 64
  • [While working beneath the cliff at Manneport, Normandy] I didn't see a huge wave coming; it threw me against the cliff and I was tossed about in its wake along with all my materials! My immediate thought was that I was done for, as the water dragged me down, but in the end I managed to clamber out on all fours, but Lord, what a state I was in! My boots, my thick stockings and my coat were soaked through. The palette which I had kept a grip on had been knocked over my face and my beard was covered in blue, yellow etc. But anyway, now the excitement is passed and no harm's done, the worst of it was that I lost my painting which was very soon broken up, along with my easel, bag etc. Impossible to fish anything out. Besides, everything was torn to shreds by the sea, that "old hag" as you sister calls her.
    • Letter to Alice Hoschedé, 1884; as quoted in: Howard F. Isham (2004) Image of the Sea: Oceanic Consciousness in the Romantic Century. p. 337
  • I am weary, having worked without a break all day; how beautiful it is here, to be sure, but how difficult to paint! I can see what I want to do quite clearly but I’m not there yet. It’s so clear and pure in its pink and blues that the slightest misjudged stroke looks like a smudge of dirt.. ..I have fourteen canvases underway.
    • Claude Monet in letter from Cote d’Azure to his second wife Alice Hoschedé, (ca. 1886): K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 55
  • Did you know that I went to London to see Whistler and that I spent about twelve days, very impressed by London and also by Whistler, who is a great artist; ; moreover, he could not have been more charming to me, and has invited me to exhibit at his show.
    • 1887 Letter to Theodore Duret (13 August 1887, L. 794); as cited in: Katharine Jordan Lochnan, ‎Luce Abélès, ‎James McNeill Whistler (2004), Turner, Whistler, Monet, p. 179
  • I am distressed, almost discouraged, and fatigued to the point of slightly ill.. ..Never have I been so unlucky with the weather. Never three suitable days in succession, so I have to be always making changes [in his paintings] for everything is growing and turning green. And I have dreamed of painting the Creuse [river in the South of France] just as we saw it.. ..In short, by dint of changes I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, and then there is that river that shrinks, swells again, green one day, then yellow, sometimes almost dry, and which tomorrow will be a torrent, after the terrible rain that is falling at the moment. In fact, I am very worried. Write to me; I have a great need of comfort.
    • In his letter to art critic and friend Gustave Geffroy, 24 April 1889; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 129
  • I was completely ignorant of the poetry of Poe; it is admirable, it is poetry itself, the dream, and how one feels that you have translated its soul! I am no more than a completely illiterate ignoramus, but am not any the less moved by it. I knew only Poe's prose, which I had read and admired very young before I had heard it spoken of, but how your poems complete and express the man he was
    • 1889 Letter (15 February 1889, L. 911); as cited in: Steven Z. Levine, ‎Claude Monet (1994), Monet, Narcissus, and Self-Reflection: The Modernist Myth of the Self. p. 93

1890 - 1900[edit]

Claude Monet, photo by Nadar, 1899.
Poplars at the River Epte, 1891.
The Seine Near Giverny, 1897,
  • I have gone back to some things that can’t possibly be done: water, with weeds waving at the bottom. It is a wonderful sight, but it drives one to crazy to try to paint it. But that is the kind of thing I am always a tackling.
    • In Monet's letter to art critic and his friend Gustave Geffroy, 22 June 1890; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 129
  • I am in a very black mood and profoundly disgusted with painting. It really is a continual torture! Don’t expect to see anything new, the little I did manage to do has been destroyed, scraped off, or torn up. You've no idea what appalling weather we've had continuously these two past months. When you’re trying to convey the weather, the atmosphere and the general mood, it’s enough to make you mad with rage.
    • In Monet's letter to art critic and his friend Gustave Geffroy, Giverny 1890; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 56
  • For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the air and the light which vary continually. For me, it is only the, surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.
    • Claude Monet (1891); as quoted in: National Gallery of Australia, ‎Michael Lloyd, ‎Michael Desmond (1992), European and American paintings and sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery, p. 75
  • I am working as hard as I possibly can, and do not even dream of doing anything except the cathedral. It is an immense task.
    • 1893 letter from to his art buyer Durand-Ruel, 30 March 1893; as quoted in: Christoph Heinrich (2000), Monet, p. 57
  • I tell myself that anyone who says he has finished a canvas is terribly arrogant. Finished means complete, perfect, and I toil away without making any progress, searching, fumbling around, without achieving anything much.
    • Claude Monet (1893); as quoted in: David W. Galenson (2009), Painting outside the Lines, p. 49
  • I hope that Cezanne will still be here and that he will join us, but he is so shy, so afraid of meeting new people, that I am afraid that he might let us down, even though he wants very much to meet you. How sad it is that this man hasn't had more patronage in his life! This is a true artist who has come to doubt himself far too much. He needs to be cheered up, so e was quote touched by your article.
    • 1894 letter from Giverny to Gustave Geffroy, 23 November 1894; cited in: P. Michael Doran (2001), ‎Art Conversations with Cézanne, p. 3
  • I have at last found a suitable spot and settled her. I have already spend a few days working and started eight canvases, which I hope, if the weather favours me, will give an idea of Norway and the environs of Christiania.. This morning I was painting under constant falling snow. You would have burst out laughing seeing me white all over, my beard overgrown with icicles.
    • 1895 letter from Sandviken to Gustave Geffroy, late January 1895; In Geoffrey (1922, vol 2 pp. 87,88), cited in: Nathalia Brodskaya, Claude Monet, 2011, p. 106
    • Similar translation:
      One should live here for a year in order to accomplish something of value, and that is only after having seen and gotten to know the country. I painted today, a part of the day, in the snow, which falls endlessly. You would have laughed if you could have seen me completely white, with icicles hanging from my beard like stalactites.
      • From: Claude Monet, ‎Charles F. Stuckey (1985) Monet: a retrospective, p. 169
  • I have not been able to see a bit of sea or any water at all; everything is frozen and covered with snow.
    • 1895 letter from Sandviken to Gustave Geffroy, 26 February 1895 (L. 1274); as cited in: Steven Z. Levine, ‎Claude Monet (1994), Monet, Narcissus, and Self-Reflection: The Modernist Myth of the Self. p. 93
  • To me the motif itself is an insignificant factor; what I want to reproduce is what lies between the motif and me… Other painters paint a bridge, a house, a boat... I want to paint the air in which the bridge, the house and the boat are to be found - the beauty of the air around them, and that is nothing less than the impossible.
    • Claude Monet in 1895 interview; Quoted in: Paul Hayes Tucker et al. (eds). (1999) Monet in the Twentieth Century. London: Royal Academy of Arts/Boston: Museum of Fine Arts. As cited in: Steven Connor, "About There, or Thereabouts." talk given at the Catalysis conference on Space and Time, Downing College, Cambridge, 23rd March 2013.

1900 - 1920[edit]

I see less and less....Nevertheless, I always paint at the times of day most propitious for me, as long as my paint tubes and brushes are not mixed up..I will paint almost blind, as Beethoven composed completely deaf.
  • Ninety per cent of the theory of Impressionist painting is in . . . Ruskin's Elements.
    • Attributed to Claude Monet, talking to a British journalist in 1900, by Wynford Dewhurst in "What is impressionism?," Contemporary Review, March 1991; Cited in: John Ruskin (2012) The Elements of Drawing. p. viii
  • I've never seen such changeable conditions and I had over 15 canvases under way, going from one to the other and back again, and it was never quite right; a few unfortunate brushstrokes and in the end I lost my nerve and in a temper I packed everything away in crates with no further desire to look out of the window, knowing full well that in this mood I’d only mess things up and all the paintings I’d done were awful, and perhaps they are, more than I suppose.
    • Claude Monet, ca. 1900, London: as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 72
  • I could not appreciate his paintings and when he offered to take me with him to paint outdoors in the open countryside, I always found a pretext and refused politely. But when summer came, I was more or less free to dispose of my time as I wished and I had no feasible excuse left to give him and gave in. Thus it was, that Boudin - with his inexhaustible kindness - took it upon himself to educate me. With time, my eyes began to open and I really started to understand nature. I also learned to love it. I would analyze its forms with my pencil. I would study its colorations.
    • Claude Monet par lui-meme – interview by Thiébault-Sisson / translated by Louise McGlone Jacot-Descombes; published in Le Temps newspaper, 26 November 1900
    • On Eugène Boudin, then landscape-painting in and around Le Havre, circa 1856; Monet was 16 years old then.
  • The following week, when he passed in front of me, he sat down and squarely positioned on my chair, looked at my piece. I could then see him turn around, inclining his serious face with a satisfied air and I heard him say to me while smiling: "Not bad, not at all bad this, but it is too much like the real model. You have a stocky man and you depict him as stocky.. ..Nature, my friend, serves well as a means to study but offers no real interest. Style is the only thing that matters." I was flabbergasted. The truth, life, nature - all that provoked emotions in me - all that constituted for me the real essence and the unique "raison d'être" of art, did not exist for this man!
    • Claude Monet par lui-meme – interview by Thiébault-Sisson / translated by Louise McGlone Jacot-Descombes; published in Le Temps newspaper, 26 November 1900.
    • About Toulmouche, his first painting-teacher in Paris circa 1857.
  • Jongkind .. ..his painting was too new and far too artistic to be appreciated in 1862 at his prices. Moreover, no one was as bad at making himself valued, as he was. He was a straight-forward and simple kind of man, who could hardly speak bad French and was very shy. But he was very outgoing that day. He asked to see my sketches, invited me to come and work with him, explained the whys and wherefores underlining his work and thereby, completed the training that I had already received from Boudin. He became from this moment my true master and it [is] to him, that I owe the definitive training of my eyes.
    • Claude Monet par lui-meme – interview by Thiébault-Sisson / translated by Louise McGlone Jacot-Descombes; published in Le Temps newspaper, 26 November 1900
    • About Johan Jongkind, famous pre-impressionist landscape-painter of Dutch origin, painting then in Honfleur for some years.
  • It was not until 1869 that I met him again, but this time, we became friends immediately. From the first meeting, he invited me to join him every evening in a café of the 'Batignolles' where he and his friends would gather to talk at the end of a day spent at their studios. I would meet there, Fantin-Latour and Cézanne, Degas - who arrived shortly afterwards from Italy, the art critic Duranty, Emile Zola who was just starting-off in the literary world and a number of others. I would take Sisley, Bazille and Renoir. There was nothing more interesting than these discussions with their perpetual differences of opinion. Our mind and souls were stimulated… ..One would always leave, all the better immersed, the will stronger, our thinking more defined and clear.
    • Claude Monet par lui-meme – interview by Thiébault-Sisson / translated by Louise McGlone Jacot-Descombes; published in Le Temps newspaper, 26 November 1900
    • About Édouard Manet, leading artist in Impressionism then, in Paris.
  • ..but what a pity that I did not come here [Venice] when I was younger and more adventurous.
    • In Monet’s letter to art critic and friend Gustave Geffroy, 1907; as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 56
  • It's quite beyond my powers at my age, and yet I want to succeed in expressing what I feel.
    • his remark in 1908; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 269
  • Since the appearance of Impressionism, the official salons, which used to be brown, have become blue, green, and red... But peppermint or chocolate, they are still confections.
    • Claude Monet (1909), as cited in: Sarah Walden (1985) The ravished image, or, How to ruin masterpieces by restoration, p. 67
  • Nothing in the whole world is of interest to me but my painting and my flowers.
    • his remark, shortly after the death of his second wife Alice in 1911; as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 76
  • Colours no longer looked as brilliant to me as they use to do [Monet’s sight was beginning to fail], I no longer painted shades of light so correctly. Reds looked muddy to me, pinks insipid, and the intermediate or lower notes in the colour scale escaped me. As for forms, I could see them as clear as ever, and render them as decisively. At first I tried pertinacity. How many times I have remained for hours near the little bridge, exactly were we are now, in the full glare of the sun, sitting on my camp-stool, under my sunshade, forcing myself to resume my interrupted task and to recapture the freshness my palette had lost! A waste of effort. What I painted was more and more mellow.. ..and (when) I compared it with what I used to do in the old days. I would fall into a frantic rage, and I slashed all my pictures with my penknife.
    • remark by Monet – between 1900 and 1920 – on his 'Water lilies' paintings; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 131-132
  • Though I remained insensitive to the subtleties and delicate gradations of colour.. ..my eyes at least did not deceive me when I drew back and looked at the subject in its broad lines, and this was the starting-point of new compositions.. ..Slowly I tried my strength in innumerable rough sketches which convinced me.. ..I could see as clearly as ever when it came to vivid colours isolated in a mass of dark tones. How was I to put this to use? My intentions gradually became clearer.. ..I said to myself, as I made my sketches, that a series of general impressions, captured at the times of day when I had the best chance of seeing correctly, would not be without interest. I waited for the idea to consolidate, for the grouping and composition of the themes to settle themselves in my brain little by little, of their own accord; and the day when I felt I held enough cards to be able to try my luck with a real hope of success, I determined to pass to action, and did so.
    • remark by Monet – between 1900 and 1920 – on his 'Water lilies' paintings; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 132
  • I’m very sorry to inconvenience you [the art dealers G. and J. Berheim-Jeune], but I find it impossible to supply you with any more Venice pictures. It was useless trying to persuade my self otherwise, the work that’s left is too poor for exhibition. Don’t insist.. ..I've enough good sense in me to know whether what I’m doing is good or bad, and it’s utterly bad, and I can’t believe that people of taste, if they have any knowledge at all, could see any value in it. Things have been dragging on like this for far too long...
    • In Monet’s letter to his art dealers G. and J. Berheim-Jeune, Venice, 1912; as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 72

1920 - 1926[edit]

  • I can no longer work outside because of the intensity of the light.
    • In the summer of 1920 to Gustave Geffroy. Monet in the 20th Century, by Paul Hayes Tucker.
  • I see less and less....I need to avoid lateral light, which darkens my colors. Nevertheless, I always paint at the times of day most propitious for me, as long as my paint tubes and brushes are not mixed up....I will paint almost blind, as Beethoven composed completely deaf.
    • January 1921 to journalist Marcel Pays. Monet in the 20th Century, by Paul Hayes Tucker.
  • It took me a long time to understand my water lilies... I planted them for pleasure, and grew them without thinking of painting them... You don't absorb a landscape in a day... And then, all of a sudden, I had the revelation of the enchantment of my pond. I took up my palette.
    • Monet in: Marc Elder. A Giverny, chez Claude Monet (1924); as quoted in: Vivian Russell (1998) Monet's Water Lilies: The Inspiration of a Floating World. p. 19
  • Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. To such an extent indeed that one day, finding myself at the deathbed of a woman who had been and still was very dear to me, I caught myself in the act of focusing on her temples and automatically analyzing the succession of appropriately graded colors which death was imposing on her motionless face.
    • As quoted in Claude Monet: Les Nymphéas (1926) by Georges Clemenceau, Ch. 2.
  • I was thinking of preparing my palette and my brushes to resume work, but relapses and further bouts of pain prevented it. I’m not giving up that hope and am occupying myself with some major alterations in my studios and plans to perfect the garden [in Giverny]. All this to show you that, with courage, I’m getting the upper hand.
    • In Monet’s letter to Georges Clemenceau, September 1926 (three months before he died); as quoted in: K.E. Sullivan. Monet: Discovering Art, Brockhampton press, London (2004), p. 79
  • My only merit lies in having painted directly in front of nature, seeking to render my impressions of the most fleeting effects, and I still very much regret having caused the naming of a group whose majority had nothing impressionist about it.

1930s and later[edit]

  • Impressionism is only direct sensation. All great painters were less or more impressionists. It is mainly a question of instinct, and much simpler than Sargent thinks. But he went on to agree that impressionists had noted how strong
    • Claude Monet, quoted in: Stephen Lucius Gwynn. Claude Monet and His Garden: The Story of an Artist's Paradise, Macmillan, 1934, p. 69: Comment by Monet to the English biographer Sir Evan Charteris.
  • I was born undisciplined. Never, even as a child, could I be made to obey a set rule. What little I know I learned at home. School was always like a prison to me, I could never bring myself to stay there, even four hours a day, when the sun was shining and the sea was so tempting, and it was such fun scrambling over cliffs and paddling in the shallows. Such, to the great despair of my parents, was the unruly but healthy life I lived until I was fourteen or fifteen. In the meantime I somehow picked up the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic, with a smattering of spelling. And there my schooling ended. It never worried me very much because I always had plenty of amusements on the side. I doodled in the margins of my books, I decorated our blue copy paper with ultra-fantastic drawings, and I drew the faces and profiles of my schoolmasters as outrageously as I could, distorting them out of all recognition.
    • Claude Monet, quoted in: Denis Rouart (1972) Claude Monet, p. 21 : About his youth
  • I started selling my portraits. Sizing up my customer, I charged ten or twenty francs a caricature, and it worked like a charm. Within a month my clientele had doubled. Had I gone on like that I'd be a millionaire today. Soon I was looked up to in the town, I was 'somebody'. In the shop-window of the one and only framemaker who could eke out a livelihood in Le Havre, my caricatures were impudently displayed, five or six abreast, in beaded frames or behind glass like very fine works of art, and when I saw troops of bystanders gazing at them in admiration, pointing at them and crying 'Why, that's so-and-so!', I was just bursting with pride.
    • Claude Monet, quoted in: Denis Rouart (1972) Claude Monet, p. 22 : About the first steps in his career
  • I didn't become one... As long as I can remember I've always been one.
    • Claude Monet in: Claude Monet, ‎Charles F. Stuckey (1985) Monet: a retrospective. p. 91
    • Monet answering the question, how he had became an impressionist.
  • I felt the need, in order to widen my field of observation and to refresh my vision in front of new sights, to take myself away for a while from the area where I was living, and to make some trips lasting several weeks in Normandy, Brittany and elsewhere...
    • Claude Monet in letter to François Thiébault-Sisson (1856-1936); As quoted in: Howard F. Isham (2004) Image of the Sea: Oceanic Consciousness in the Romantic Century. p. 336 : About his 1880s travels

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