Claude Monet was a key figure in the Impressionist movement that transformed French painting in the second half of the nineteenth century. Throughout his long career, Monet consistently depicted the landscape and leisure activities of Paris and its environs as well as the Normandy coast. He led the way to twentieth-century modernism by developing a unique style that strove to capture on canvas the very act of perceiving nature. Raised in Normandy, Monet was introduced to plein-air painting by Eugene Boudin, known for paintings of the resorts that dotted the region's Channel coast, and subsequently studied informally with the Dutch landscapist Johan Jongkind. When he was twenty-two, Monet joined the Paris studio of the academic history painter Charles Gleyre. His classmates included Auguste Renoir, Frederic Bazille, and other future Impressionists. Monet enjoyed limited success in these early years, with a handful of landscapes, seascapes, and portraits accepted for exhibition at the annual Salons of the 1860s. Yet many of the rejection of his more ambitious works, notably the large-scale Women in the Garden, inspired Monet to join with Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Renoir, and others in establishing an independent exhibition in 1874. Impression: Sunrise 1873; Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris, one of Monet's contributions to this exhibition, drew particular scorn for the unfinished appearance of its loose handling and indistinct forms. Yet the artists saw the criticism as a badge of honor, and subsequently called themselves "Impressionists" after the painting's title, even though the name was first used derisively. .
Monet found subjects in his immediate surroundings, as he painted the people and places he knew best. His first wife, Camille, and his second wife, Alice, frequently served as models. His landscapes chart journeys around the north of France and to London, where he escaped the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71.