Impressionism

Claude Monet and Masterpieces Painted in Series

Zuzanna Stańska 24 September 2022 min Read

Claude Monet was famous for his series of paintings. He repeatedly painted the same subject in different lights, at different hours of the day, and in various weather and seasons. This practice began in the 1880s and continued until the end of his life in 1926. Here you will find an overview of his greatest painting series.

1. Haystacks

Claude Monet, Haystacks, end of Summer, 1891, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France.
Claude Monet, Haystacks, end of Summer, 1891, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.

Haystacks was the first series Monet exhibited. In 1891, Galerie Durand-Ruel (owned by the famous Impressionist art dealer) exhibited 15 paintings from this series. These paintings were a vital breakthrough both in Monet’s career and in the history of French art. Their novelty resulted from both their subject matter and the series’ concept intended to be seen together.

2. Rouen Cathedral

Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, Facade (sunset), Harmony in gold and blue, 1892-1894, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France.
Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, Facade (sunset), Harmony in gold and blue, 1892-1894, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France.

26 views of Rouen Cathedral is probably the best-known series by Monet. Originally produced in 1892 and 1893, the artist later reworked them in his studio in 1894. He rented spaces across the street from the cathedral where he set up temporary studios for this purpose.

3. Poplars

Claude Monet, The Four Trees, (Four Poplars on the Banks of the Epte River near Giverny), 1891, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA.
Claude Monet, The Four Trees, (Four Poplars on the Banks of the Epte River near Giverny), 1891, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA.

This series was created in the summer and fall of 1891. Monet’s home and studio was a few kilometers upstream from the banks of the Epte River. He had to go by a small boat to reach his floating painting studio was moored in place on a nearby waterway. What is interesting is that the trees actually belonged to the commune of Limetz. They put them up for auction before the artist had completed all of his paintings. In this case, Monet was forced into buying the trees in order to finish his paintings. After completing the series, he sold the trees back to the lumber merchant.

4. Venice

Claude Monet, San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk, 1908–1912, National Museum of Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, UK. Art UK.
Claude Monet, San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk, 1908–1912, National Museum of Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, UK. 

Although I am enthusiastic about Venice, and though I’ve started a few canvases, I’m afraid I will only bring back beginnings that will be nothing else but souvenirs for me.

Monet to the art seller Gaston Bernheim.

Luckily, he eventually painted 37 canvases featuring a dozen different views, taken within a short distance from one another. These are now among his most popular works.

5. Houses of Parliament

Claude Monet, The Houses of Parliament, Sunset, 1903, National Gallery of Art Washington
Claude Monet, The Houses of Parliament, Sunset, 1903, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA.

In the fall of 1899 and the early months of 1900 and 1901, Monet painted this series of nearly a hundred paintings. It was during his stays in London. All of the series’ paintings share the same viewpoint from the artist’s window or a terrace at St Thomas’ Hospital overlooking the Thames. However, he painted them during different times of the day and in varying weather conditions, therefore the paintings vary. Look at this mist!

6. Charing Cross Bridge

Claude Monet, Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1899-1901, Saint Louis Art Museum
Claude Monet, Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1899-1901, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Mist also features in the Charing Cross Bridge series, painted between 1899 and 1904. Out of the total 37 canvases, he only finished 12 while in London. Meanwhile, the artist took the rest back to his Giverny studio for completion.

7. Water Lilies

Monet's series paintings: Claude Monet, Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, c. 1920, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.
Monet’s series paintings: Claude Monet, Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, c. 1920, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.

This is the largest of Monet’s series. During the last thirty years of his life, 250 oil paintings depicting Monet’s flower garden in Giverny were the main focus of his artistic production. In 1908, Monet destroyed 15 of his Water Lilies right before a planned exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Gallery. Apparently, he was so unhappy with the paintings that he decided to ruin them rather than have the work go on public display. It is also interesting that he painted many of the works in this series while suffering from cataracts.

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