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I only know that I do what I can to render what I feel when facing nature and that more often than not, when I try to do so, I completely forget the most basic rules of painting, if indeed there are any.

Claude Monet
  The Beach at Trouville  ,  1870, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford
  The Beach at Trouville  ,  1870, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford
Artistic Beginnings
Normandy and the Forest of Fontainebleau
First chapter
  Forest of Fontainebleau , 1865, Kunst Museum Winterthur, gift of the Galerieverein, 1934

Forest of Fontainebleau, 1865, Kunst Museum Winterthur, gift of the Galerieverein, 1934

©
  The Tuileries,  1876, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
  The Tuileries,  1876, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
Paris
Incarnation of the Modern Age
Second chapter
Development of the railway network in France
  The Seine at Argenteuil , 1875, private collection
  The Seine at Argenteuil , 1875, private collection
Rural Idylls
A Life Along the Seine
Third chapter

The Seine, I have painted it all my life, at every time of day, in every season. From Paris down to the sea. I have never tired of it: to me it is always new.

Claude Monet
  By the Bridge at Argenteuil,  1874, Saint Louis Art Museum

By the Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874, Saint Louis Art Museum

By the Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874
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  Melting of Floes at Vétheuil , 1880, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, on permanent loan to the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Melting of Floes at Vétheuil, 1880, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, on permanent loan to the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

  Grainstack in the Sunlight, Snow Effect , 1891, Hasso Plattner Collection

Grainstack in the Sunlight, Snow Effect, 1891, Hasso Plattner Collection

  Grainstacks in the Sunlight, Midday , 1890, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Grainstacks in the Sunlight, Midday, 1890, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

In my view a landscape does not exist in itself, because its appearance is changing all the time; it lives through what encases it the air and the light that keep altering. (…) For me the subject only acquires its true value from what surrounds it.

Claude Monet
 Claude Monet:  Rocky Coast and the Lion Rock, Belle-Île,  1886, Des Moines Art Center
 Claude Monet:  Rocky Coast and the Lion Rock, Belle-Île,  1886, Des Moines Art Center
Coasts of Northern France
Sublime Nature
Fourth chapter
  The Beach at Fécamp , 1881, private collection

The Beach at Fécamp, 1881, private collection

I was unperturbed by the waves that lapped around and died away a few paces from me. In short, so thoroughly absorbed was I that I failed to see an enormous wave that flung me against the cliff, and I was cast into the foam with all my equipment!

Claude Monet
 Claude Monet, Villas in Bordighera, 1884
 Claude Monet, Villas in Bordighera, 1884
Colors like Precious Stones
The Light of the Riviera
Fifth chapter

These palm trees will be the death of me; besides, the motifs are extremely difficult to capture, to place on the canvas; everything is so dense (…) but when one looks for motifs it is very difficult. I would like to do some orange and lemon trees standing out against the blue sea, but I cannot find any the way I want them. As for the blue of the sea and the sky, impossible!

Claude Monet
  The Fort of Antibes , 1888, Hasso Plattner Collection

The Fort of Antibes, 1888, Hasso Plattner Collection

  Antibes Seen from the Salis Gardens , 1888, private collection

Antibes Seen from the Salis Gardens, 1888, private collection

  Charing Cross Bridge, Reflections on the Thames , 1899–1901, The Baltimore Museum of Art
  Charing Cross Bridge, Reflections on the Thames , 1899–1901, The Baltimore Museum of Art
London
The Colours of Fog
Sixth chapter
  Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect , 1903, Denver Art Museum

Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, 1903, Denver Art Museum

Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, 1903
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What I like most of all in London is the fog. (…) Without the fog London would not be a beautiful city. It is the fog that gives London its magnificent breadth.

Claude Monet
  The Palazzo Contarini , 1908, Hasso Plattner Collection
  The Palazzo Contarini , 1908, Hasso Plattner Collection
Enchanting Light
Venice
Seventh chapter

Simple-minded scribblers and painters had torn Venice away from nature. Claude Monet came to Venice and brought nature back.

Octave Mirbeau
  The Rio della Salute , 1908, Hasso Plattner Collection

The Rio della Salute, 1908, Hasso Plattner Collection

A letter from Monet in Venice, 1908
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What a shame I did not come here when I was younger and entirely undaunted! Ah well… But I have spent some delightful moments here, almost forgetting I was the old man I am.

Claude Monet
  Water-Lilies , 1914–1917, Hasso Plattner Collection
  Water-Lilies , 1914–1917, Hasso Plattner Collection
Monet’s Garden
A Man-Made Paradise
Eighth chapter

It took me a long time to understand my water lilies. I planted them simply for pleasure; put them in without a thought for painting them. One does not discover a landscape in a single day. And then, quite suddenly, the magic of my pond was revealed to me. I picked up my palette. (…) Ever since then I have hardly touched another motif.

Claude Monet
  The Water-Lily Pond , ca. 1918, Hasso Plattner Collection

The Water-Lily Pond, ca. 1918, Hasso Plattner Collection

  Water-Lilies,  1904, Denver Art Museum

Water-Lilies, 1904, Denver Art Museum

I have no other wish than to mingle more closely with nature, and to live in harmony with her laws (...). Nature is greatness, power and immortality; compared with her, a creature is nothing, an atom.

Claude Monet