12 best paintings by Claude Monet

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

A connoisseur of wildlife, the famous creator of a new, incredibly popular trend in painting – impressionism – Claude Monet is today considered by critics to be a symbol of his era. Who would have thought that a little cartoonist would have a strong influence on artists all over the world in the future, creating a whole galaxy of excellent canvases with a unique, incredibly bright color scheme, because of which, at a time of unknown author, there were rumors about his madness. Here are some of the best paintings of the great master – the most famous creations of the French impressionist brush.

In the footsteps of the great impressionist: top 12 masterpieces of the French genius Claude Monet

Nomination a place Composition rating
Review of the best paintings by Claude Monet 1 'San Giorgio Maggiore at dusk', 1908-1912 5.0
2 'Lady in a Green Dress' (Camilla), 1866 4.9
3 'Stroll. Lady with an umbrella ', 1875 4.9
4 Series 'Haystacks', 1890-1891 4.8
5 The Rouen Cathedral series, 1892-1893 4.7
6 Series 'Water Lilies', 1896-1926 4.7
7 Series 'Gare Saint-Lazare', 1872-1877 4.6
8 'Ladies in the Garden', 1866 4.5
9 'Impression. Rising Sun ', 1872 4.5
10 'Breakfast on the Grass', 1866 4.5
11 'Parliament building at sunset', 1900-1901 4.5
12 'Waterloo Bridge in Cloudy Weather', 1904 4.4

'San Giorgio Maggiore at dusk', 1908-1912

Rating: 5.0

San Giorgio Maggiore at dusk

One of the most famous and significant paintings in the work of the great impressionist. The predominant tones in the plot are orange – it is with such shades that the artist associated the decline of the Italian city. The Venetian Cathedral and water, of course, water stand out brightly against the colorful background.

The master himself noted that the picture of the twilight city was made in a non-standard way for him: the idea of ​​the canvas was so impressively beautiful and mesmerizing that the artist worked frantically, literally stepping on the heels of the sun moving towards sunset and its water reflections. In his work, Monet used dramatic color contrasts, which gave the painting greater depth and brightness.

Since the idea was inspired almost instantly, Monet applied the technique of short strokes and quickly filling the canvas with paste. So he managed to instantly capture the color moment and accurately convey the play of light. The author saw the main task of his works not to convey to the viewer a moral message or a deep semantic load, but to create a sensory impression, awaken pleasant sensations, impression, it is not for nothing that Monet is one of the brightest representatives of impressionism.

'Lady in a Green Dress' (Camilla), 1866

Rating: 4.9

Lady in a Green Dress' (Camilla), 1866

The portrait depicts the wife of the great impressionist, Camille Donsier, at a time when she was not yet a wife or even a bride. Claude and Camilla had just met, and after one of these meetings, Monet decided to convey on the canvas that vivid feeling that arose between the young people. In the painting 'Lady in a Green Dress', the artist managed to capture the quivering moment when the girl who was practically at the exit turned around.

Monet did not waste his energy on drawing the background: he focused all his skills on Camille herself – he carefully detailed her face, the curve of her neck, facial expression, even a slight movement of her hand, lovingly painted her dress and sheepskin coat. In the picture, one cannot notice airiness or something unearthly: the artist tried to show the girl real, alive. Monet did not need a reference ideal: the dress looks heavy, it seems that it drags on the floor with difficulty – this suggests that it is made of heavy fabric.

Monet wrote what he saw and loved with all his heart (despite a short acquaintance, the artist managed to passionately and ardently fall in love with the girl), without embellishment and difficulties that would only offend Camille. The picture turned out to be incredibly lively and deep: you can feel the ardor and awe of a young lover in it.

'Stroll. Lady with an umbrella ', 1875

Rating: 4.9

Stroll.  Lady with umbrella

The painting is considered the beginning of a cycle of paintings, the first and main of which was painted in 1875. The artist's first wife, Camilla, became the model for the portrait. The work is considered the largest in the creative period of the 1870s. The canvas depicts Camille with her son in the wild fields near Colombes and Zhenivier.

Madame Monet is half-sided, as if she suddenly found the viewer. Her dress flutters in the wind. The figure is slightly displaced to the right, which is compensated by a tilted parasol, in the dome of which bright meadow greens are reflected. A little further away, visible only to the waist, is Monet's son, as if looking attentively at the viewer.

The picture was painted from nature in the open air, most likely in one session. During the period of the creation of the canvas, the artist's works gradually began to predominate in the careful elaboration of characters, displacing landscapes. Nevertheless, the great impressionist does not forget to convey the elusive sunlight to the viewer, which makes the picture seem to be alive.

The location of the female character on the canvas and the low horizon line can be considered a special highlight of the canvas, which gives the painting as a whole a monumental look – this is a rather unusual presentation for a French impressionist.

Series 'Haystacks', 1890-1891

Rating: 4.8

Series' Haystacks

Monet believed that the landscape must be painted, fully preserving the color, shape and mood of the environment and “this will lead to the appearance of a personal, naive vision of the situation you are looking at.” Monet was not the first among painters who decided to transfer a rural landscape to canvas, the main object of which would be a haystack. Van Gogh, Pizarro, Gauguin and other great artists have already written on this topic.

But Monet managed to excel by using two innovative elements in his work: the way he sees light and the creation of a whole series of paintings. Thanks to the incredible work and talent of the artist, today we can contemplate the diversity of the same motif, depending on the time of day and changing lighting.

Creating a whole series of canvases depicting a haystack, Monet, in his own words, sought to show the passage of time. He complained that in the summer, when he was painting, the sun was setting so quickly that the artist could not keep up with him and each time he looked for the fleeting variability of light.

In 1888 Monet created several sketches of haystacks near Giverny. He returns to the same topic a year later, when the suffering begins (summer harvest and grain harvest). He works hard for several months, painting fields that are covered in summer sunlight, bright reddish in autumn, and tightly wrapped in snow in winter.

The summer of 1890, when the master was immersed in the case of 'Olympia', eager to buy the painting from the widow of Manet and give it to the Louvre, turned out to be cloudy, with frequent rains. Therefore, the artist had to finalize the canvases that he had started already in the workshop, fantasizing about how colorful and extraordinary the sky can be. Fifteen paintings in the series, first exhibited at Durand-Ruel, were a resounding success and were sold out despite the high price tag.

The Rouen Cathedral series, 1892-1893

Rating: 4.7

Series' Rouen Cathedral

Another series of paintings by the genius impressionist, only this time in the center of the plot is the majestic Rouen Gothic cathedral. To create a whole cycle of canvases, Monet settled near the cathedral and painted from early morning until late at night. The artist was incredibly fascinated by the play of light on cold stone and sought to convey this amazing contrast to the canvas.

All of Monet's attention was focused not on the whole building, but only on a separate part of it – 2 towers: Martina and Alban. In the impressionist's understanding, the elements of the cathedral looked like a portal, and this side of the building was depicted in each painting. Progressing in his work, the artist gradually began to apply a larger layer of paint to the canvas, trying to emphasize certain details and give the painting its own light.

Often the work went quickly, but Monet himself complained about this fact, saying that this complicates the task and it is not easy for him to transfer his vision to the canvas. Sometimes the painter was tormented by nightmares in which the cathedral fell on him or treacherously changed its color.

Spectators were able to see the masterpieces of the French impressionist for the first time only in 1895, and although the opinions of critics were divided, many artists (including foreign ones) changed their perception of the world. Almost immediately, 8 paintings from the series were sold to various collectors. The rest, despite the rather high price (about 15,000 francs), were purchased by several more connoisseurs of impressionism.

Series 'Water Lilies', 1896-1926

Rating: 4.7

Series' Water lilies

The huge cycle includes almost 250 canvases, each of which was made using the technique of oil painting. Some paintings can be safely called monumental, and not only because of their impressive size, but also because of their ingenious color perception. For the convenience of his work, the artist built a new workshop with special lighting.

It is noteworthy that in the process of work, Monet was so carried away and was impressed by the result that he did not want to part with any of the paintings of the 'Water Lilies' series, created by almost 30 years of hard work. In museums and private collections, these canvases began to appear only after the death of the impressionist.

Monet was very proud that he was able to acquire his own estate (it was located in Giverny), where he laid out a luxurious flower garden. The paintings in the series depict water lilies growing in the artist's own garden. By the way, many canvases were already created at the time when the painter suffered from cataracts. But perhaps this helped him move away from traditional color perception and create an incredible play of colors and light and shade.

Canvases from the 'Water Lilies' series are kept in many museums around the world: in Paris, New York, Wales, Oregon, etc. Representatives of the Christie's auction house call Monet's 'Water Lilies' one of the most recognized and significant works of the 20th century that had a tremendous impact on impressionist and modernist artists around the world.

Series 'Gare Saint-Lazare', 1872-1877

Rating: 4.6

Series' Gare Saint-Lazare

In 1872, Claude Monet appeared at the directorate of Saint-Lazare, declaring that he was going to paint a whole series of paintings, and their main object would be the station. The artist considered the station building to be one of the most impressive at that time and wanted to convey his feelings from the era of technological progress, moving away from the landscape theme.

Since Monet wrote from nature, the station workers threw all their efforts to ensure that Saint-Lazare appeared before the impressionist in all its glory: the station territory was constantly cleaned, even the steam locomotives were painted, and the train drivers tried to let in as much steam as possible. The magnificent panorama literally captured the French genius, and as a result, as many as 12 paintings were written, in which the station was depicted not only from different angles, but also in different weather, at different times of the day. This series became the first in the work of the painter: soon 'Haystacks' and 'Water Lilies' will be 'born'.

First presented to the world in 1877 at an exhibition, the series of paintings 'Gare Saint-Lazare' was a resounding success. The famous French writer Émile Zola would later say that it was the atmosphere conveyed in Monet's canvases that inspired him to write the novel 'Man-Beast', dedicated to the French railway.

'Ladies in the Garden', 1866

Rating: 4.5

Ladies in the garden

The picture was considered very unusual for a contemporary viewer. Monet wanted to make it clear that he would write only as his inspiration and instinct suggested to him, without looking back at academic traditions. The French landscape painter Gustave Courbet, who often visited Monet at that time, was amazed not only by the author's idea, but also by the scale of the canvas. Due to its huge size (255×205 cm), it was incredibly cumbersome: the artist had to lower the canvas into a special hole using a winch when he started painting the upper part of the picture.

The impressionist wanted to convey the play of shadow and light as accurately as possible, working out for this the smallest details of the plot. At the same time, his characters were assigned a secondary role. For example, the women depicted on the canvas look stylized, their faces can hardly be seen: one lady stands half-turned, the other with her back, the third hides behind a bouquet in color. Thus, the artist makes it clear that it is not an individual person that is more important to him, but the interaction of a person with the outside world.

Despite the seeming tradition, the picture was truly innovative: numerous half-turns, cut edges of dresses – all this would have been impossible for an academic painter. The painting 'Ladies in the Garden' was painted in a difficult financial period for Monet, so the work was going on hard. It was this painting that he planned to exhibit at the Paris Salon, one of the most prestigious French art exhibitions, but the jury did not miss the work. But when Monet became famous, the painting “Ladies in the Garden” was acquired by the French government for a huge amount of money – 200,000 francs.

'Impression. Rising Sun ', 1872

Rating: 4.5

Impression.  Rising Sun

When the founder of Impressionism painted a picture, he believed that this was his next work, which could not be sold. But it was with her, in fact, that the emergence of a new direction in painting began. In 1874, the creation, along with the works of colleagues, 'brothers in spirit' in creativity, was presented at an independent exhibition. However, the efforts of young talents were not appreciated by everyone.

So, the journalist Louis Leroy, after visiting the exhibition, wrote a critical article 'Exhibition of the Impressionists', in which he exposed the artists to ridicule, in fact saying that such' creations' drive academic painters crazy, and gave the then unknown young people the offensive nickname 'impressionists '. Of course, then he could not have imagined that artists, in protest, would eventually accept this nickname, which would become a household name and become one of the most famous artistic movements in the world.

In the painting 'Impression. Rising Sun 'Monet paid special attention (however, as always) to color rendering, using a minimum of shades for this, but creating an incredibly lively, realistic landscape. The main tones are bluish: the whole canvas seems to be permeated with the feeling of a cold, dank morning.

The artist managed to very accurately convey the mood of the port: this is how the locals saw him – gloomy, with sun glare on the water, with the sky flowing into the ocean, where the silhouettes of ships are vaguely distinguishable.

'Breakfast on the Grass', 1866

Rating: 4.5

Breakfast on the grass

A painting with a tragic fate, underestimated in its time, has become a true symbol of its era. Work on the canvas began in 1865 under the impression of the scandalous painting of the same name by Edouard Manet, which had a somewhat frivolous content. But besides the identical name and, perhaps, the forest landscape, the paintings have absolutely nothing in common.

Behind the creation of the canvas lies a truly titanic work, because the picture had a huge size – 400×600 cm.And working with such a huge basis requires considerable skill, the ability to feel and correctly form the composition, colors, distribute characters, etc.

The artist began his work in a pre-selected place in the forest of Fontainebleau. As models I used my wife Camilla and friend, comrade 'in the shop' Frederic Basil. First of all, Monet painted the forest in the open air, then he drew the characters in the workshop, after which he again went out with models to write sketches from nature. After that, in the workshop, the artist put all the elements together.

The canvas depicts a cool summer or spring day. The bright blue sky flickers among the dense, lush foliage of the trees. In some places, thin rays of the sun break through. Against the background of the landscape, a group of men and women are resting: someone is chatting, someone is sitting down to eat, others are stretched out on the grass. You can feel fun, freshness of the forest, lightness.

Initially, Monet created the painting “Breakfast on the Grass” in order to present it at the Paris Salon, but catastrophically did not have time, therefore, almost in a hurry, he wrote “Lady in a Green Dress”, which was favorably received by critics. Being in a difficult financial situation, the painter left the unfinished canvas as collateral to his landlord and decided not to take on large things that ate up all his money and created difficulties for him.

But the landlord kept the masterpiece carelessly, and part of the canvas simply rotted from a long stay in a damp basement. After 7 years, Monet bought the canvas and cut it into 3 parts, leaving only 2 (one was completely unusable). Today, critics consider the painting to be the artist's debut in a then new style, the real flagship of the impending revolution in art.

'Parliament building at sunset', 1900-1901

Rating: 4.5

Parliament building at sunset

In 1900, Paul Durand-Ruel, the constant patron of Impressionism, was eagerly awaiting the return of Claude Monet from the British capital. He was supposed to bring the views of the bridges across the Thames and Parliament created during his stay in London. The artist brought the work, but was dissatisfied with the sketches, so he returned a year later to finalize the canvases, and another year later.

Durand-Ruel received the finished London cycles only by 1904, but the wait was worth it: a week later, the painting “The Parliament Building at Sunset” was sold for good money. Since then, the painting has visited many private collections in Le Havre, Paris, New York and even Japan. In 2015, the canvas sold for $ 40 million.

In the process of writing a cycle of paintings, Monet complained about the inconsistency of the London weather: 'The weather is constantly changing due to clouds and strong wind … it drives me crazy.' The states of nature and unique sunny moments are replacing each other with tremendous speed, but the fact that Monet was able to convey them on canvases is priceless. An unusual, even daring effect gives a special charm to this particular picture – a bright red glow that breaks through thick clouds.

'Waterloo Bridge in Cloudy Weather', 1904

Rating: 4.4

Waterloo bridge in cloudy weather

Another masterpiece from the London cycle by Monet also did not stay at the exhibitions for a long time. For example, this incredible view of the Waterloo Bridge was acquired by a passionate art lover, Russian collector Mikhail Ryabushinsky. He was 37 when the revolution took place in the Russian Empire. He hid part of the collection, gave part of it to the Tretyakov Gallery for storage, and then emigrated to Britain. The painting got into the gallery of the real tycoons of the antique world – the Wildensteins. Subsequently, the canvas changed many owners – all of them exceptional personalities.

Claude Monet first came to the British capital with his wife to visit his son and immediately realized that he would return here again. The great impressionist was impressed by the color of the city and confidently took up the creation of paintings with local landscapes. He admired the poetry of some of London's places, but the weather drove him crazy, making his work many times more challenging and incredibly addictive.

Returning from London, Monet brought with him as many as 8 boxes of canvases (!) And none was finished. The artist worked on the paintings for several more years, not allowing them to sell a single one. Only when all the canvases were completed, they were able to appear in the eyes of the amazed spectator, connoisseurs of impressionism and criticism.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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