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Claude Monet (November 14, 1840-December 5, 1926) is arguably the most important figure in the foundation of the French Impressionist school of painting. Its most consistent and prolific practitioner, Monet applied the movement's philosophy of exploring and expressing one's perceptions before nature, particularly in his well-known landscape paintings. In fact, the term Impressionism is derived from the title of his 1872 painting Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant). Inspired by the Barbizon painters of the early-nineteenth century, Monet's dedication to painting en plein air led him to question the formalized European traditions of color, composition, and representation. Monet's studies of French landscapes, leisurely activities of the upper-middle class, portraits, architecture, and garden scenes are recognized as seminal influences on not only the late 1800s, but also the painters of the early twentieth century. Monet died in Giverny in 1926, and his home and prolific garden were bequeathed to the French Academy of Fine Arts, and are currently open to the public.
View all of Claude Monet's work.
In the later years of his life, Claude Monet produced approximately 250 paintings of water lilies, the assemblage of which is referred to as Nympheas. Painted through the artists' cataract-afflicted eyes from impressions of his Giverny garden, the Water Lilies series has come to be some of Monet's most renowned and lauded work. Perhaps the most well known example of the Water Lilies resides in Paris's Orangerie, a small museum in the gardens of Tuileries. The Orangerie houses two oval rooms whose walls are completely covered by the eight spectacular water lily murals that Monet created, which were unveiled mere months after his death, opening in May 1927. Other members of the Water Lily series can be found in respectable institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Musee Marmottan Manet in Paris, the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, and many others. Nympheas is not only one of Monet's most beloved collections of work, but also monumentally important and influential in the development of twentieth-century art.