Based on a complete study of Monet's work, his surviving letters (nearly 3,000 in all) and contemporary documentary material, Virginia Spate's classic volume is the fullest account available of a complex and influential man whose style changed and evolved considerably during his long career.
Monet is considered as an intelligent and cultured being, a friend to writers such as Zola, Mallarme and Octave Mirbeau, fully informed as to the cultural and intellectual tendencies of his time.
His often neglected figure paintings, always of family and friends, are analysed alongside his landscapes, which ranged from series of river scenes to steam-filled railway stations.
Changes in his output in response to shifts in demand are linked to the new system of art dealers and to his financial situation.
The France of Monet's youth and maturity is covered in depth, especially the traumatic legacy of the Franco-Prussian war and the Prussian Commune; and his famous garden at Giverny is shown to be both a personal Utopia and a vital part of his creative processes. The dialectric of the real world and its representation in art is explored in detail as manifested in his splendid canvases - faithfully represented in over 130 colour plates.
This definitive treatment of a hugely important artist makes an indispensable contribution to the art history of Impressionism and the roots of modernism.