Claude Monet Paintings 1879-1886

Claude Monet painted Cliff Walk at Pourville in 1882. See more pictures of Monet paintings.

Critic Georges Lecomte once described Claude Monet as "the epic poet of nature...full of enthusiasm, indulgence, and serenity, extracting from nature all of its joy." This pursuit to understand nature through art is clearly visible in Monet's works from 1879 to 1886.

During the first stages of his career, Monet concentrated on nature in familiar sites. He returned to his boyhood home in Le Havre and set up his easel where he first painted the sea. But by the 1880s, Monet felt compelled to turn his attention to new sites and new challenges. Over the course of the decade, he traveled to select destinations, traversing regions on foot and immersing himself for months in solitary work.

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 Monet Image Gallery

 Monet painted relentlessly, often in brutal weather conditions, to test his physical endurance as well as his powers of observation. From 1882 through 1886 Monet made annual winter journeys to the villages of Etretat, Dieppe, and Pourville along the Channel coast of Normandy. He selected sites along the jagged shoreline and set up his easel looking out over the seas from a high point of view.

In 1883, Monet traveled with friend Pierre Auguste Renoir to the Riviera resort town of Bordighera. Here Monet found an alternative vision to the cold northern light, and an unprecedented challenge: the radiant colors of the southern Mediterranean. For three months, Monet worked from dawn to dusk, painting on four canvases at once, aiming to capture the high color he saw everywhere around him.

In 1886, Monet went to the coast of Brittany, drawn to the rugged terrain and jagged rock formations that jutted up out of the sea. He defined a desire to test himself by using darker tones in contrast to his usual pale palette. To do so, he braved the winds and rains of the harsh sea squalls to capture the deeper tones of the rocks when they were wet.

For all his daring and endurance, Monet won much admiration and also transcended his reputation as an Impressionist.

To learn more about how Monet became the "epic poet of nature," see these Claude Monet paintings from 1879-1886:

  • Church at Vétheuil with Snow: Claude Monet's Church at Vétheuil with Snow was painted using a broken brush stroke to suggest the glimmer of low winter light. Learn about Church at Vétheuil with Snow, a painting Monet submitted to the fourth Impressionist exhibition.
  • The Break-up of the Ice: Claude Monet's The Break-up of the Ice is a scene of sliding snow from the unusually harsh winter of 1879. Learn about The Break-up of the Ice, which is now housed at The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor.
  • The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil: The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil depicts Claude Monet's youngest children in a garden path of giant sunflowers. Learn about The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil, a painting dominated by complementary colors.
  • Bouquet of Sunflowers: Claude Monet's Bouquet of Sunflowers evoked surprise and praise from the critics. Learn about Bouquet of Sunflowers, Monet's mastery of a more traditional floral still life.
  • Cliff Walk at Pourville: In Cliff Walk at Pourville, Claude Monet depicts Alice Hoschedé and her daughter looking out toward the summer sea. Learn about Cliff Walk at Pourville, which can be seen at The Art Institute in Chicago.
  • Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe: Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe shows the rising cliffs of a French coastal town where Claude Monet made temporary residence. Learn about Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe, a painting about the volatile effects of nature.
  • Cabin of the Customs Watch: Claude Monet's Cabin of the Customs Watch has a cool tonality with silvery pink flowers and foam-crested waves. Learn about Cabin of the Customs Watch, an icy sea scene of Pourville in late winter.
  • The Cliff at Dieppe: In The Cliff at Dieppe, Claude Monet depicts a white chalk cliff crowned by an old stone house. Learn about The Cliff at Dieppe, painted by Monet as he traveled the Normandy coast.
  • Coucher de Soleil à Etretat: Coucher de soleil à Etretat shows the rugged Channel Coast cliff that gave Claude Monet new inspiration. Learn about Coucher de soleil à Etretat, a dramatic view of the sea at sunset.
  • The Manneporte (Etretat): In The Manneporte (Etretat), Claude Monet uses thick brush strokes to portray the choppy motion of the sea. Learn about The Manneporte (Etretat), a wintry painting housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • Villas in Bordighera, Italy: Villas in Bordighera, Italy heated up Claude Monet's usually pale palette. Learn about Villas in Bordighera, Italy, nature seen from the view of a popular Mediterranean resort town.
  • The Departure of the Boats, Etretat: In The Departure of the Boats, Etretat, Claude Monet depicts rainy weather in a fishing village. Learn about The Departure of the Boats, Etretat, a shoreline painting Monet created from his upper floor hotel room.
  • Etretat, Gate of Aval: Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbor: Claude Monet's Etretat, gate of Aval: Fishing boats leaving the harbor is a cliff scene done with softer effect. Learn about Etretat, gate of Aval: Fishing boats leaving the harbor, a painting which features the rock formation Falaise d'Amont.
  • Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois: In Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois, Claude Monet looks down onto the rocky coast of a restless sea. Learn about Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois, a painting with deep contrast in both color and stroke.
  • Storm, Belle-Isle Coast: For Storm, Belle-Isle coast, Monet modified his usual pale palette to capture a leaden sky. Learn about Storm, Belle-Isle coast, a dramatic example of Monet's willingness to brave the elements of nature for art.

Claude Monet's Impressionist fascination with nature begins with a wintry, snow-clad landscape. Learn about Monet's Church at Vétheuil in the next section.

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Church at Vetheuil with Snow by Claude Monet

Claude Monet's Church at Vétheuil with Snow is an oil on canvas (20-7/8x28 inches) that is housed in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Claude Monet's Church at Vétheuil with Snow is an oil on canvas (20-7/8x28 inches) that is housed in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

The Church at Vétheuil with Snow was painted by Claude Monet in 1879. In the autumn of 1878, Monet moved his family to Vétheuil. His new locale was featured in six of the works he submitted to the fourth Impressionist exhibition the following spring.

Monet returned to his old fascination with a snow-clad landscape, using a broken brush stroke to suggest the glimmer of low winter light on the frozen surface. Dashes of red -- on the gate of the tower and on the riverbank-- enliven the muted palette.

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Claude Monet would continue to be inspired by the harsh winter season. See his painting The Break-up of the Ice in the next section.

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The Break-up of the Ice by Claude Monet

The Break-up of the Ice was completed by Claude Monet in 1880. The winter of 1879 was unusually harsh, and even Monet found working outdoors nearly unbearable. In early December, a sudden rise is temperature caused the ice to crack.

Alice Hoschedé, now living with her children in Monet's house, described the resulting thaw as terrifying, as half the melted snow slid down from the hills onto the village. Monet drew inspiration from the experience, painting scene after scene as the ice floes broke on the river.

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Claude Monet also captured the essence of a more colorful summer season. See his painting The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil in the next section.

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The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil by Claude Monet

The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (59-7/8x47-5/8 inches) housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (59-7/8x47-5/8 inches) housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Claude Monet painted The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil in 1880. After his wife Camille's death, friend Alice Hoschedé stayed with Monet, and they raised their children together as one large family.

Monet cultivated a garden in Vétheuil and painted their youngest children together on a path flanked by giant sunflowers. The dominant complementary colors, heightened by the rapid manner in which he dabbed his paint on the canvas, create a sense of movement across the canvas as if the flowers are stirred by a warm summer breeze.

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Monet also took a more traditional approach to floral painting with several still lifes. See his work titled Bouquet of Sunflowers in the next section.

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Bouquet of Sunflowers by Claude Monet

Bouquet of Sunflowers by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (39-3/4x32-1/8 inches) housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
Bouquet of Sunflowers by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (39-3/4x32-1/8 inches) housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Claude Monet painted The Bouquet of Sunflowers in 1881. Six floral still lifes were included in Monet's submission to the seventh Impressionist exhibition.

Monet had painted bouquets of flowers on occasion throughout his career, and now, in a time of financial crisis, his own garden offered an alternative to expensive travel searching for subjects to paint. Critics praised these works and expressed surprise at Monet's mastery of such a traditional subject.

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But Claude Monet would once again set his easel toward the sea. Learn about his painting Cliff Walk at Pourville in the next section.

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Cliff Walk at Pourville by Claude Monet

Claude Monet's on canvas (25-3/8x31-7/8 inches) in the Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Claude Monet's on canvas (25-3/8x31-7/8 inches) in the Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Claude Monet painted Cliff Walk at Pourville in 1882. He repeatedly painted the rise of the cliff at Pourville throughout his summer stay. Here, he depicts Alice Hoschedé and one of her daughters looking out toward the sea.

The bleached tonality of the foliage on the cliff marks the season as high or late summer. Full white cumulus clouds float on a blue sky over the sun-warmed green water. The bright salmon pink interior of Alice's parasol strikes a pleasant tonal contrast.

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Claude Monet painted the rising cliffs of this coastal town from different points of view. See his painting Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe in the next section.

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Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe by Claude Monet

Claude Monet's Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe is an oil on canvas (24x32 inches) housed at The Cleveland Museum of Art.
Claude Monet's Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe is an oil on canvas (24x32 inches) housed at The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Claude Monet painted Low Tide at Pourville near Dieppe in 1882. Early that year, he traveled to the coastal town Pourville to paint the rising cliffs that bordered the sea. Later in the year he returned with his family.

Throughout the decade, Monet made journeys in pursuit of subjects to paint, choosing a location, establishing a temporary residence, and using his time to observe a site from different points of view and at different times of day to study the volatile effects of nature.

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Claude Monet continued to sojourn through the rolling hills of Pourville into the winter. See his cool-toned painting Cabin of the Customs Watch in the next section.

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Cabin of the Customs Watch by Claude Monet

Cabin of the Customs Watch by Claude Monet                              is an oil on canvas (24x32-1/4 inches) housed at                                            The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Cabin of the Customs Watch by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (24x32-1/4 inches) housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Cabin of the Customs Watch was painted by Claude Monet in 1882. The sparse vegetation places this work during his first sojourn to Pourville that year.

Choosing a very high point of view, Monet looks down on the little structure, identified as a fishing hut in other paintings, and follows the roll of the hills that rise above the sea. The cool tonality -- seen in the silvery pink and lilac wildflowers on the hill and the icy, foam-crested waves of the blue water -- confirm the late winter setting.

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Claude Monet continued to travel with his easel, painting all along the Normandy coast. See his painting The Cliff at Dieppe in the next section.

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The Cliff at Dieppe by Claude Monet

The Cliff at Dieppe by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (26x32-1/4 inches) housed at Kunsthaus Zürich in Switzerland
The Cliff at Dieppe by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (26x32-1/4 inches) housed at Kunsthaus Zürich in Switzerland

Claude Monet painted The Cliff at Dieppe in 1882. Through the course of the summer, Monet regularly made the short journey north along the Normandy coast from Pourville to Dieppe.

The sheer rise of the white chalk cliff, crowned by an old stone house with a red tile roof, intrigued Monet in its contrast to the placid shore below. He painted the beach in pale tones of pink, blue, and celadon green, roughing in the forms of the bathers with no more than a single stroke of black or gray.

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Claude Monet continued to be intrigued by nature's rugged cliffs. See his dramatic painting Coucher de soleil à Etretat in the next section.

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Coucher de soleil a Etretat by Claude Monet

Coucher de soleil à Etretat by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (23-5/8x28-3/4 inches) housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy, France.
Coucher de soleil à Etretat by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (23-5/8x28-3/4 inches) housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy, France.

Claude Monet painted Coucher de soleil à Etretat in 1883. After a short visit to his native Le Havre, Monet journeyed to Etretat on the Channel Coast. The contour of the rugged coastal cliff gave him new inspiration.

Monet painted the cliff at different times of the day, using its dark mass as a striking foil to the dramatic play of light behind it. Sunset enshrouded the cliff in purple shadow but illuminated the sky and water in striations of pink, aqua, green, and pale gold light.

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The Channel Coast continued to command Monet's attention in 1883. See a different view of this beach in Monet's The Manneporte (Etretat) in the next section.

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The Manneporte (Etretat) by Claude Monet

The Manneporte (Etretat) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-3/4x32 inches) housed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Manneporte (Etretat) by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-3/4x32 inches) housed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Claude Monet painted The Manneporte (Etretat) in 1883. The Manneporte, a huge natural arch that jutted out into the sea on the beach at Etretat, commanded Monet's attention during his stay on the Channel Coast in the early months of 1883.

For this view, Monet positioned his easel facing west to take advantage of the low illumination of the setting sun. The frigid palette and thick brush strokes that describe the motion of the choppy waters evoke the physical discomfort posed by the challenge of plain air painting in winter.

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The next year, Claude Monet would travel to the Italian resort town of Bordighera. See a more heated palette from Monet in Villas in Bordighera, Italy in the next section.

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Villas in Bordighera, Italy by Claude Monet

Villas in Bordighera, Italy by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (45-1/4x51-1/4 inches) housed at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Villas in Bordighera, Italy by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (45-1/4x51-1/4 inches) housed at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Claude Monet painted Villas in Bordighera, Italy in 1884. The artist spent three months working in Bordighera, a popular Italian resort town on the coast of the Mediterranean.

In letters to friend Alice Hoschedé, Monet expressed his delight at the natural colors of the sea and sky, shades of blue he feared he could not approximate. He confessed that the palm trees caused him problems, but his stay was productive, and the setting heated the color of his palette.

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In 1885, Claude Monet returned to the Channel Coast and found less than sunny conditions. See the sweeping view from Monet's hotel room in The Departure of the Boats, Etretat in the next section.

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The Departure of the Boats, Etretat by Claude Monet

Claude Monet's The Departure of the Boats, Etretat is an oil on canvas (28-7/8x36-5/8 inches) in the Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago
Claude Monet's The Departure of the Boats, Etretat is an oil on canvas (28-7/8x36-5/8 inches) in the Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago

Claude Monet painted The Departure of the Boats, Etretat in 1885. The artist stayed in the Hôtel Blanquet while in Etretat. Located on an upper floor with a view of the beach, the room gave Monet a view of the coastline when the weather forced him indoors.

 Late in November Monet painted the departure of the fishing fleet by looking out his window. The high perspective allowed him to use the shacks and abandoned boats in the foreground to sweep the line of vision toward the sea.

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Claude Monet continued to paint from high points of view in Etretat. See a calmer view of the shoreline in Etretat, gate of Aval: Fishing boats leaving the harbor in the next section.

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Etretat, gate of Aval: Fishing boats leaving the harbor by Claude Monet

Claude Monet's Etretat, gate of Aval: Fishing boats leaving the harbor is an oil on canvas (23-5/8x31-7/8 inches) housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France
Claude Monet's Etretat, gate of Aval: Fishing boats leaving the harbor is an oil on canvas (23-5/8x31-7/8 inches) housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France

Claude Monet painted Etretat, gate of Aval: Fishing boats leaving the harbor in 1885. Seen at a distance from an elevated point of view, the imposing form of the Falaise d'Amont assumed a more gentle aspect.

Monet further softened the effect with a muted palette of violet-tinted grey. The aqua water flows up against the pink-tinged sands and then out from the coast, nearly merging with the misty horizon. The boats cast deep red and brown shadows on the water, tracing their path away from the shore.

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The next year Claude Monet would revisit his characteristic theme of cliffs and rock formations. See Monet's looming Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois in the next section.

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Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois by Claude Monet

Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (28-1/2x23 inches) housed in The Saint Louis Art Museum.
Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (28-1/2x23 inches) housed in The Saint Louis Art Museum.

Claude Monet painted Rocks at Belle-Isle, Port-Domois in 1886. Looking down at the rocky coast, the artist depicted the cliffs and rock formations as solid masses looming over a restless sea.

Monet used color and stroke to create this contrast. The cliffs are worked in with densely laid strokes of deep shadowed tones, while the short broken strokes of lighter hues -- blues fading into brilliant white -- describe the constant motion of the water.

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Claude Monet continued to paint in Belle-Isle, even facing gale winds and rain. See the leaden palette of Monet's Storm, Belle-Isle coast in the final section.

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Storm, Belle-Isle coast by Claude Monet

Storm, Belle-Isle coast by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-5/8x31-7/8 inches) housed in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Storm, Belle-Isle coast by Claude Monet is an oil on canvas (25-5/8x31-7/8 inches) housed in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Claude Monet painted Storm, Belle-Isle coast in 1886. In his letters to companion Alice Hoschedé, Monet expressed frustration with the rough squalls that interrupted his work as he waited for the gale winds to diminish so he could anchor his easel.

But Monet had a strong constitution, and the rain did not deter him. He told Alice he needed to modify his normally pale palette to paint the low clouds and the leaden sky.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American painting, including Publication International, Ltd.'s, Impressionism and Van Gogh. Other titles include Sunflowers, Monet's Garden in Art, Van Gogh: Fields and Flowers, and Mary Cassatt: Reflections of Women's Lives. Ms. Mancoff is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.