Oscar Claude Monet is considered the archetypal Impressionist, with his devotion to painting the transient effects of light and color "en plein air" unwaveringly throughout his long career. Appropriately, it is one of his pictures, Impression: Sunrise, which gave the group of artists painting in this style its name.
Born in Paris, Monet attended L’Academie Suisse from 1859-60 and subsequently enrolled in the studio of Glenyre, where he met Renoir and Sisley, with whom he formed the nucleus of the Impressionist group. He organized the first Impressionist exhibit in 1874 and became the group’s leader, initiator and unswerving advocate. Monet moved to Giverny in 1883, planting the extensive gardens and lily ponds that would provide the inspiration for his later works.
From 1890 he concentrated on a series of pictures in which he painted the same subject at different times of the day in different light. The most popular of these are the Haystacks and Rouen Cathedral series. He continued to travel widely, visiting London and Venice several times, yet increasingly he focused his attention on Giverny. There, the celebrated water gardens inspired the Water Lilies series that dominated his work for the remainder of his life.