pond

In 1874, 30 penniless artists mounted an exhibition of their work in Paris. The month long show attracted about 3500 visitors but there were few sales. The critics had not heard of impressionism or bohemians with names like Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cezanne, Degas, Sisley and Morisot. In addition, France was in the middle of a long economic recession.  The market was unwilling and also unable to buy art.

In 1883, the impoverished Monet rented a house in Giverny, a village in Normandy about 65 kms outside Paris. With the end of the recession, and the house providing a stable domestic base, Monet's fortunes began to change for the better. Monet remained at Giverny for the rest of his life although he made several trips away in search of fresh scenes to paint.

 Monet had a life-long relationship with dealer Paul Durand-Ruel who had galleries in London and Paris. Durand-Ruel was an idealistic dealer committed to promoting Impressionist art and began to sell more and more of Monet’s paintings.

The family built up the gardens, which were Monet's greatest source of inspiration for 40 years. In 1890, when Monet won the French lottery, he was able to buy the house and some surrounding buildings, and more land for his gardens.

Monet's fame and popularity soared as he became one of the world's most famous painters and a source of inspiration for other artists. At his house, Monet met with artists, writers, intellectuals and politicians from France, England, Japan and the United States.  His fame in the U.S. grew steadily. Monet had one man shows in New York in 1891 and in Boston in 1892. Increasing numbers of private American collectors came to visit Giverny in person.

Monet was the first artist to develop the idea of serial painting by producing a series of pictures of the same view of the same subject over and over again, presenting the effects of light and passing of the seasons at different times of the day. His most famous serial collections are of water lilies, train stations, grain stacks and cathedrals.

Serial painting was also very good economics. A successful artist could paint several slightly different paintings of a single subject on the same day, and sell all the pictures in the series at the same value as a single painting. Monet did it time and again, to the point where his impressionist colleagues, accused him of mass-producing art for commercial reasons and of being corrupted by success.

He focussed on painting the famous water lilies that occupied him continuously for 20 years. The challenge of capturing the alternating light, changing colours and mirror-like reflections of the water lilies in his pond, absorbed him and became a signature part of his work. He produced more than 250 paintings of the Waterlilies during his life.

Many artists and artistic people live their lives in poverty and some die penniless, their genius only discovered later. Claude Monet was known for his groundbreaking contributions to the art world. He achieved considerable success as an artist during his later years. But Monet was also a very successful and wealthy businessman who learnt how to leverage his artistic talent and the market demand for his work, to make money.

From reviewing Monet’s life story summarised above, we can identify some  factors that contributed to Monet's success both as an artist and a businessman:

 Innovation:  Monet was one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. His unique and revolutionary painting style attracted attention and admiration from art collectors, critics, and fellow artists. His originality, experimentation and innovation played a significant role in growing his reputation and increasing the value of his artworks.

 Work Ethic: Monet was a hard worker and dedicated painter who consistently produced a large number of artworks throughout his career. He had a strong work ethic and was known for his commitment to his craft. By creating and exhibiting numerous paintings, Monet ensured a steady supply of artwork for sale, which contributed to his financial success.

 Marketing: Monet actively promoted his work and looked for opportunities to showcase his paintings in exhibitions. These exhibitions increased his visibility and helped to create a market for Impressionist art.

 Networking: Monet had a network of art dealers and collectors in Europe and America who recognized the value of his work and actively supported him. These individuals assisted in promoting and selling his paintings, ensuring a steady income for the artist.

Choosing the right agent:  Monet's long association with the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel was one of the most important drivers of his financial success.

A settled domestic life: The house and garden in Giverny  provided him with a stable home base and family life, and a picturesque setting for his paintings. The gardens at Giverny became a recurring theme in his later works, attracting buyers who were captivated by his depictions of nature.

Passion: Monet's business success arose from learning how to leverage his artistic talent and grow the market demand for his work. He was driven by his focus and passion for creating, and experimenting with, unique art.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9KnIgal-qE&t=85s