The bitter love rival attempted to destroy all remains of Claude Monet

Did you know that a story of a tragic death in Monet’s life ended up becoming a spiteful tale of rivalry and jealousy? The artist became head over heels for his muse and first wife, Camille, who appears in dozens of Claude Monet’s paintings. But just by observing these beautiful paintings, it’s hard to imagine the drama that came out of her image.

This is a compelling story of art, passion, and betrayal. We’ll learn that if it wasn’t for Monet’s art, Camille’s image could have been almost erased from existence.

Early Life of Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was born on November 14, in the year 1840, in Paris, to Claude Adolphe and Louise Justine Monet. The Monets moved to La Havre when Claude was five years old. Although his father wanted him to follow the family business, his mother, a singer, supported young Monet’s decision to become an artist.

When he was fifteen, Monet started to create and sell incredibly detailed and well-drawn caricatures. Soon, probably under the influence of his aunt, an amateur painter, Monet had his first drawing lessons under Jacques-Francois Ochard, a former pupil of the distinguished Jacques-Louis David. There, Monet met Eugene Boudin, who encouraged him and became a key influence on his career. It was Boudin who taught young Monet to paint outdoors, a fundamental element of Monet’s production.

In 1858, Monet moved from La Havre to Paris, where he enrolled at the Academie Suisse, a popular art school frequented by several distinguished artists such as Gustave Courbet, Camille Claudel, Paul Cezanne, Edouard Manet, and many more.

Three years later, Monet was drafted by the military and stationed in Algeria. An illness forced the artist to Return to France. However, the beautiful sights and light of North Africa would impose a long-lasting impact on the artist.

Monet then ingressed Charles Gleyre’s atelier. There, the artist met Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Frederic Bazille, who would become dear friends.

Claude Monet and Camille Doncieux

By 1865, Claude Monet began working on his “Le dejeuner sur l’herbe”, also known as “The Picnic”, hoping to exhibit it at the 1866 Salon. This was when Monet met his future wife, Camille Doncieux, who posed for this painting alongside Gustave Courbet and Frederic Bazille. Monet couldn’t finish “The Picnic” in time, however. Instead, he painted “The Woman in the Green Dress”, also portraying Camille. The painting was well-received and sold for 800 francs, an excellent payment for a relatively unknown artist.

Camille Doncieux was born in today’s Lyon, France, on January 15, 1847, and was seven years younger than Monet. They soon began a relationship, and in 1867, their first son, Jean, was born. However, condemning the relationship, Monet’s father would cut all the financial support from the artist. In the following year, Monet went to live with Camille and Jean in Paris without telling his father or aunt, who was thought to have been abandoned by him.

The couple married in 1870, and Monet’s family, disapproving of the whole situation, boycotted the marriage. Unfortunately, their marriage was plagued by poverty. Camille came from a humble family and had little money. And by that time, Monet was yet to become a successful artist and had no support from his well-to-do family. The couple moved from Paris to a small village to avoid creditors. They barely had food to eat and even had to flee hotels in the middle of the night because they were unable to pay the fees.

In the same year, in order to avoid being drafted to the Franco-Prussian War, Monet went to England, where he lived briefly with his wife and child. There, he painted “Meditation”, depicting Camille sitting on a chaise lounge with a book. The painting is rather somber compared to Monet’s usual vibrant and bright compositions. In fact, this was an emotionally turbulent period for the artist, and he even attempted suicide a few years before.

By 1876, Camille started to become gravely ill. Two years later, upon the birth of their second son, Michael, Camille’s health only deteriorated. Camille Monet died on September 5, 1879, aged 32 years old. Claude Monet depicted his beloved in several paintings, such as in “The Woman in the Green Dress” and “Camille in Japanese Costume”. The artist ultimately created a painting of his beloved on her deathbed and kept the artwork for most of his life.

He stated: “I caught myself watching her tragic forehead”, Monet wrote afterward to a friend, “almost mechanically observing the sequence of changing colors that death was imposing on her rigid face. Blue, yellow, gray and so on… my reflexes compelled me to take unconscious action in spite of myself.”

Who was Alice Hoschede?

Alice Hoschede and her husband Ernest went to live with Monet, Camille, and their children, at their house in Vetheuil when Ernst, once one of Monet’s patrons, went bankrupt. In fact, Camille got ill soon after the arrival of the Hoschedes at the Monet household, and Alice would even care for Camille during this time.

Soon after Camille’s death, Monet and Alice began an affair. Even when Ernst left Monet’s house, Alice continued to live with the artist. Alice and Monet married in 1892, after Ernst’s death. They remained together until Alice’s death in 1911.

A tale of jealousy

Now, even after Monet’s first wife passed, Alice was consumed by jealousy. So much so, that she tried to erase the memories of her rival by making the artist destroy all of the accounts of her existence – from letters to photographs. In fact, only one photo of Camille, taken in 1871, survived.

Nevertheless, despite all of Alice’s efforts, Camille’s image and memory was immortalized in the brushstrokes of Impressionist artists such as Edouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and of course,

Claude Monet. The latter produced over 30 paintings of her.

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