Claude Monet paintings: Analysis of his best work

Claude Monet self portrait

The realism of mid-nineteenth-century art slowly started to fade away in the 1870s. This occurred when artists started to focus less on the “rules” of painting and more on their feelings about the experiences of life. Claude Monet is considered the father of the Impressionism Movement. In this collection, we divide Monet’s oeuvre into five major categories according to various periods and art styles. These categories include Early Monet Paintings, Monet’s art in Argenteuil, the Rise of impressionism, Death of Camille, and finally, Late Monet paintings. The following list depicts the gradual evolution of Claude Monet Paintings throughout his career.

Best of Claude Monet Paintings

Monet learned to paint ‘en plein air’ under the influence of Eugene Boudin. This essentially involved visiting scenic locations and painting in the open air. He focused on realism before he stumbled upon the beauty of impressionism. It would be fair to say that Monet was an impressionist before impressionism was even born. 

Early Monet Paintings (1960 – 1967)

The Realism Movement was at its height during the earlier part of Monet’s life. He made portraits and caricatures in his teens that show his interest in art styles beyond realism. After art school, Monet began to explore his personal art style outside formal education. Two of the most beautiful paintings that he made during this time are titled Woman in the Garden and La Grenouillére

Claude Monet Painting of woman in a rose garden on a sunny day
Woman in the Garden. Public Domain

‘Woman in the Garden’ depicts Monet’s sister-in-law in a lush, well-kept garden in France. The style of the painting may be described as pre-impressionism since it doesn’t have all the true impressionism features. The painting is much more detailed than any of Monet’s later works. The striking color contrast between the model’s dress and the red-white roses in the center works well with the lighting and fine details. 

Claude Monet Painting of boats in a blue lake
La Grenouillére by Claude Monet. Public Domain.

Monet captures a beautiful, fleeting moment of his life through his painting La Grenouillére. The title directly translates to Frog-Pool. This lake was a common place for recreation and boating. In this painting, we can see true impressionism features. Ranging from unclear brushstrokes, correct representation of colors and light. The most transfixing feature of this work is undeniably the turquoise water with imprecise yet clearly perceivable ripples. 

Monet’s art in Argenteuil (1870-1871)

Claude Monet married Camille Doncieux in 1870. A year later they moved to Argenteuil where he painted different scenes of his garden and a nearby lake.  His 1972 painting ‘Ships Riding on the Seine at Rouen’ depicts his growing interest in painting seascapes.

Claude Monet painting of ships sailing in the sea at rouen
Ships Riding on the Seine at Rouen by Claude Monet. Public Domain

The painting depicts a clear blue sky with wide strokes of white paint for clouds. The ships in the front are not only larger but also have much more details. This painting is a perfect example of perceiving art through the painter’s lens. While one may feel that certain details deserve better representation, impressionism is about the painter’s vision. We can perceive exactly what portions of the scene the painter was attending to and what parts were at the periphery of his visual field. 

Rise of Impressionism (1872- 1875)

Monet with the help of his fellow artists formed a group called ‘Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers’. The group consisted of now well-known artists, namely, Pssaro, Sisley, Paul Cezanne, and Morisot to name a few. The cryptic name allowed them to evade any association with a particular art style. However, Monet’s work slowly gained popularity and Impressionism came to be associated with his society of painters. 

Impressioninsm painting of sunrise by Monet
Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet. Public Domain.

In this context, it is especially important to mention Monet’s most famous painting – ‘Impression, Sunrise’. While most critics were skeptical about the value of this work, Louis Leroy came up with a new genre to define Monet’s art. This genre was called impressionism based on the title of Monet’s painting which became a complete art movement soon afterward.

Death of Camille (1876-1879)

One may think that it is unfair to name a whole portion of Monet’s career based on his wife’s death. However, after her death, a pattern is seen in Monet’s work. From lively, sunny landscapes, Monet went over to capturing less optimistic moments of his life. 

Monet painted a picture of his dying wife, titled ‘Camille Monet On Her Death Bed’ which reveals how deeply saddened he was by her imminent death. As Monet’s personal life turned dark, his paintings became duller. He also made several other portraits of Camille during the time of her illness. 

Claude monet painting of his wife on her deathbed
Camille Monet On Her Death Bed by Claude Monet. Public Domain.

In his 1876 painting, Le Bateau-atelier, we see how his relationship with water has changed drastically. In La Grenouillére, the beautiful crystal blue lake caught his attention while in Le Bateau-atelier, loneliness takes centerstage. 

Claude Monet painting of sunset and boat along a river
Le Bateau-atelier by Claude Monet via Barnes Collection (1876). Public Domain.

His work consisted more of sunsets, dull colors, and progressively more unclear contours. This may be in part due to his deteriorating eyesight, however, the painter’s choice reflects his inner state to some extent. 

Late Monet Paintings (1883 – 1925)

The reflection of Monet’s deteriorating vision and old age are seen in his later paintings. This period begins with highly detailed These paintings are less about the perfection of structure or even the appropriate proportions. The emphasis is on colors and how they look from the painter’s perspective. 

Claude Monet painting of blue lake with reflection of flowers
Wisteria by Claude Monet. Public Domain.

One of his last paintings is titled Wisteria which was completed between 1920 and 1925. In the absence of any definite structure or contours, the only way to analyze this painting is through the vivid colors. It seems as if one is looking at a scene just as how he sees it, blurry with specks of color. 


Another important phase in Monet’s art was the time he spent in Giverny. Since the very beginning of his career, the artist has leaned toward painting gardens with beautiful flowers in contrasting colors. In Giverny Monet owned some land with a water meadow. This small lake housed white lilies that are local to France. Monte captured the stunning sight of bright white lilies in blue-green water in a series of paintings titled ‘Water Lilies’. 

Monet’s work acts as a bridge between classicism and modernism. It is difficult to imagine that once upon a time Monet was struggling to make a livelihood through art and now each frame sells for millions. Presently some of his paintings are displayed in the Musée de l’Orangerie, others have been damaged or are part of a private collection.  

FAQs About Claude Monet

What was one of Claude Monet’s famous paintings?

Impression, Soleil levant is without a doubt one of the most famous paintings by Monet. A close second to this painting is his series of paintings titled ‘water lilies’ and ‘haystacks’. 

Why are Monet’s paintings so famous?

Monet gained immense fame for being authentic to his personal art style which later gave rise to the Impressionism movement. He was one of the first artists to cut down on fine details to paint a picture of their subjective impression. Moreover, his art is relevant in today’s time on account of its vibrant colors.

What is Claude Monet style of painting?

Impressionism is Claude Monet’s personal style of painting. He does not focus on minute details but rather paints those aspects that make a lasting impression on his memory. 

What is Claude Monet known for?

Claude Monet is a nineteenth-century artist who is most famous for starting the impressionism movement.

How many Monet paintings exist?

About 2500 Monet paintings and other artworks have been found over the years. However many of these works were stolen by the Nazis and there is no way to know definitely if all were returned. Through X-ray imaging of his artworks, it has been found that some of the paintings have been painted over existing work. 

What is the top-selling Claude Monet painting? 

The most expensive Monet painting belongs to his Haystack series. The painting was bought for $110.7 million in 2019. It is also the 9th most expensive painting to be sold at an auction. This work is the most expensive Impressionism painting by any artist. 

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