Happy Birthday, Claude Monet! (PHOTOS)

11/14/2012 11:15 am ET | Updated Nov 14, 2012

Today is the birthday of French Impressionist master, Claude Monet. The plein-air devotee would turn 172 years old if he were miraculously still alive today.

Monet began his career in the French capital amongst the likes of Edouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He shunned the typical style of art training and instead of venturing to the Louvre to copy the works of Old Masters, he often set up shop near a window or outdoors to capture what he saw. The young artist began to earn a reputation for his new approach to creating artworks, consisting of disjointed, rapid brushstrokes pieced together to create dreamy landscape images.

claude monet

Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, 1899, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the Franco-Prussian War, Monet sought refuge in England. He studied the works of national treasures like J.M.W. Turner, a painter who proved influential in Monet's later works. The French artist returned to his native land in 1871 to live in a village on the Seine called Argenteuil, the setting for some of his best known creations. It was during this period that he painted the infamous "Impression, Sunrise," a piece that gave rise to the Impressionist movement, for which Monet would become famous.

Following the death of his young wife and muse, Camille Doncieux, Monet moved to Giverny, a town teeming with the artist's favorite flower, the water lily. Painting up and down the banks of the Seine, Monet created numerous depictions of the river's lilies that now hang in museums such as The National Gallery in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the Musee d'Orsay in France.

Monet died in 1926 after marrying his second wife, Alice Hoschedé. Their house in Giverny was turned into a makeshift museum by the Foundation Claude Monet. Since his death, Monet's paintings have soared in value, with the latest water lily homage selling for over $43 million at auction.

In honor of Monet's birthday, scroll through a slideshow of the artist's greatest works and let us know how you are celebrating the painter's birthday in the comments section.

Claude Monet

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