When Claude Monet exhibited his paintings for the first time in Paris, he acknowledged no teacher, intending to claim complete originality for his works. Since then, many writers have sought to corroborate his originality, latching on to statements such as What I do here will at least have the merit of not resembling anybody. Because it is simply the expression of what Ive experienced by myself (letter to Bazille, 1866). In actual fact, Monet was gregarious, passionately interested in the paintings of his predecessors and contemporaries, and he made a common political cause with his fellow impressionists, being a principal organizer of their first exhibitions. This book aims to recreate the artistic milieu of Monet and show his rapport with the unconventional non-academic currents of French art including the preceding generation of landscapists of the Fontainebleu School and the succeeding generation, including Paul Gauguin. Paintings by Claude Monet, approximately 20 in all, are grouped with the works of other artists connected to Monet to suggest the range of his experience, his influences, and the influence of his art, from his beginnings in the 1860s to the years after 1900.
The artists used for comparison include greats such as Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Degas and Cezanne.