“Farmyard in Normandy” by Claude Monet

Farmyard in Normandy by Claude Monet - Musée d’Orsay, Paris

“Farmyard in Normandy” by Claude Monet

“Farmyard in Normandy” by Claude Monet is one of his very early paintings. Monet produced a surprisingly small number of pictures during his early years as an artist. By studying the masters of earlier generations, Monet learnt to start with a quick sketch and then complete the painting with paint patches and dabs to create a complete piece that captured the scene. This painting was made when he was twenty-three at the start of his career.

Claude Monet was born in 1840 in Paris, and at the age of five, his family moved to Normandy on the northern French coast. His parents called him Oscar and his father wanted him to go into the family’s retail business, but Monet wanted to become an artist. At age eleven, Monet entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts. Locals got to know him for his charcoal caricatures, which he would sell for ten to twenty francs. On the beaches of Normandy at age sixteen he met an artist Eugène Boudin, who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints. Boudin taught Monet “en plein air” the outdoor techniques for painting.

At the age of sixteen, his mother who supported his artistic ambitions died, and he left school and went to live with his aunt. In Paris, for several years he met other young painters, including Édouard Manet and others who would become friends. At the age of twenty-one, Monet was drafted into the African Light Cavalry in Algeria for seven years of military service. His father could have purchased Monet’s exemption from conscription but declined to do so when his son refused to give up painting. While in Algeria, Monet did only a few sketches, all of which have been lost. After about a year of garrison duty in Algiers, Monet contracted typhoid fever and briefly went absent without leave. Monet’s aunt intervened to remove him from the army if he agreed to complete a course at an art school.

He left the army and started art school, but became disillusioned with the traditional art schools, in 1862, a year before this painting, Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille and Alfred Sisley. Together they shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light in the outdoor air with broken colour and rapid brushstrokes. This painting was painted at this time in 1863.

Oscar-Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the term “Impressionism” is derived from the title of his painting Impression, “soleil levant” or “Impression, Sunrise”, which was exhibited in 1874. Monet adopted a method of painting in which he painted the same scene many times to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. Monet is known for having produced a series of paintings all versions of the same subject and perspective. Examples include his series of the “Valley of the Creuse” series and his famous series of “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies” paintings.

From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where at his home, he developed a garden landscape which included the lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings, with the water lilies as the main feature. This series occupied him for the last 20 years of his life.

Reflections

  • How different is this early Monet artwork from his later paintings?
  • How did Monet’s challenging relationship with his father affect his outlook?
  • Interesting that Monet never left any pictures from his experience in Algeria?
  • The reflections of the pond in this painting will look very different, thirty years later in the Water Lilies pond reflections.

Explore Monet

A Farmyard in Normandy

  • Title:              A Farmyard in Normandy
  • Artist:            Claude Monet
  • Year:              1863
  • Medium:       Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:  65 x 81.5 cm
  • Museum:       Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Oscar-Claude Monet

Claude Monet Timeline Q & A

  • 1840 – Monet is born in Paris, France.
  • 1845 – Monet’s family move to the Normandy region of France, where he grows up.
  • 1856 – Monet takes painting lessons, including painting en plein air (outdoors).
  • 1861 – Drafted into the military and spends two years in Africa. After becoming sick, he was sent home to recover.
  • 1862 – Studies under Charles Gleyre in Paris. Becomes friends with Renoir, Cézanne, Degas, and Frédéric Bazille.
  • 1870 – Marries Camille Doncieux in Paris.
  • 1870 – Monet travels to England and explores paintings by John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner. Meets Pissarro.
  • 1871 – Monet travels to the Netherlands and explores Dutch painters.
  • 1871 – Moves to Argenteuil, France where he lives until 1878.
  • 1872 – Painted Impression, Sunrise the painting that gives Impressionism its name.
  • 1874 – First Impressionists exhibition.
  • 1879 – Monet’s first wife, Camille Monet, dies.
  • 1890 – Monet purchases land in Giverny and begins developing his garden. Begins painting the Haystacks series.
  • 1892 – Monet marries Alice Hoschedé. Starts painting the Rouen Cathedral series.
  • 1897 – Starts paints Water Lilies series.
  • 1900 – Begins Houses of Parliament series.
  • 1908 – Travels to Venice and paints Venice.
  • 1911 – Monet’s second wife, Alice dies.
  • 1916 – Monet begins painting his large Water Lilies and his panorama paintings and triptychs.
  • 1926 – Monet dies of lung cancer at the age of 86.

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“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand,
as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”

– Claude Monet

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Photo Credit: 1) GM

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