1540 Monet Paintings in a Two Hour Video

I am dis­tressed, almost dis­cour­aged, and fatigued to the point of feel­ing slight­ly ill. What I am doing is no good, and in spite of your con­fi­dence I am very much afraid that my efforts will all lead to noth­ing. 

To know any­thing about the school of paint­ing called Impres­sion­ism, one must know Claude Mon­et, who gave the move­ment its name with his paint­ing Impres­sion, Sun­rise and pro­vid­ed its method — an almost con­fronta­tion­al rela­tion­ship with land­scape in plein-air. “I have gone back to some things that can’t pos­si­bly be done: water, with weeds wav­ing at the bot­tom,” Mon­et wrote in a let­ter to his friend Gus­tave Gef­froy in 1890. “It is a won­der­ful sight, but it dri­ves one crazy try­ing to paint it. But that is the kind of thing I am always tack­ling.”

That “kind of thing,” the com­pul­sion to paint nature in motion, required work­ing quick­ly, repeat­ing the same exper­i­ments over and over, despair­ing of get­ting it right, pro­duc­ing in the attempt his glo­ri­ous series of haystacks and water lilies. Mon­et began paint­ing land­scapes upon meet­ing artist Eugene Boudin, who taught him to paint in open air, and he nev­er stopped, refin­ing his brush­stroke for almost sev­en­ty years: from his first can­vas, 1858’s View from the banks of the Lezade, to his last, The Rose Bush, fin­ished in 1926, the final year of his life.

What­ev­er else Impres­sion­ism might mean, when it comes to Mon­et, it entails a prodi­gious amount of draw­ing, sketch­ing, and paint­ing. Over 2,500 such works have been attrib­uted to him. That num­ber is prob­a­bly much high­er “as it is known that Mon­et destroyed a num­ber of his own works and oth­ers have sure­ly been lost over time,” notes the Mon­et Gallery. Around 2,000 of those works are paint­ings, now spread around the world, with the largest col­lec­tion locat­ed at the Mar­mot­tan Mon­et Muse­um in Paris, where Impres­sion, Sun­rise (above) is held.

While it may be near­ly impos­si­ble to see all of Monet’s known works in one life­time (just as it seems impos­si­ble that he could have made so many mas­ter­pieces in one life), you can see 1540 of them in the video at the top — in a pre­sen­ta­tion that may or may not suit your art view­ing sen­si­bil­i­ties. If zoom­ing slow­ly into hun­dreds of Mon­et paint­ings for a few sec­onds leaves you feel­ing a lit­tle over­whelmed, you can also head to the Mon­et Gallery online to see over 1900 of the artist’s attempts at “fol­low­ing Nature,” as he put it, “with­out being able to grasp her.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Rare 1915 Film Shows Claude Mon­et at Work in His Famous Gar­den at Giverny

Claude Mon­et at Work in His Famous Gar­den at Giverny: Rare Film from 1915

How to Paint Water Lilies Like Mon­et in 14 Min­utes

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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