How Well Do You Know Monet?

By: Linda Riesenberg Fisler

Hello Our Creative Tribe!

We hope that you have been busy with your projects. We hope things are progressing with each passing day.

As you may know, John and I have been recording Art Chats around starting a business. But, no matter where you are in your journey, the topics discussed apply at any time in your career. Working on your business strategies takes time. Honestly, it’s not as fun as creating a painting or working on your novel. However, it is just as important whether it is a hobby or your career.

Looking over the many centuries of painting, the path to success hasn’t changed that much. However, we can point to many artists ahead of their time. Disillusioned with the Academie and the salon system (which today still influences the career path of artists—meaning the way artwork sells today), Monet and others founded the Impressionist Movement.

Monet built Giverny. Prominent artists journeyed to Monet’s gardens to paint and hopefully talk with the Master. Exhibits today show the visiting artists’ work along with some of Monet’s works. Later, years after establishing himself, Monet still chased light and studied its effect on the landscape, struggling to capture its beauty. Not knowing when the sale of his next work would be, starvation caused bartering of his artwork in his earlier years. But, when Monet died, he did not die penniless.

Monet’s finances changed when he found Durand-Ruel, an art dealer who believed in the Impressionists’ work. Monet’s family and as his financial situation stabilized, seven gardeners were employed to create and maintain Monet’s beloved Giverny. Monet held the roles of painter, architect, and businessman. As Monet’s wealth grew, so did his garden and art studios. Said another way, Monet re-invested in what was bringing him both joy and income.

Artistically, Monet continued to avoid formulaic depictions of the landscape, removing himself from the comfort of his gardens to paint the Rouen Cathedral, poplars, haystacks, and other single subjects to both challenge him and ease his formulaic painting frustrations. In business ease, we consider that time as innovating, the next evolution of a product: the reinvestment of what is known and challenging it to form that next best product. All of Monet’s time spent on these paintings drew both critical acclaim and financial success.

Another innovation was Monet’s obsession with water lilies with alternating light and mirror-like reflections. But, again, it questioned Monet’s painting style, refusing to become too formulaic with his work. Perhaps modern painters like Ross and Kinkade never broke from their formulaic paintings. A sign of too narrow a marketing plan.

But back to Monet and his genius of managing his business. A trip to London in 1899 resulted in a series of 41 paintings of the Waterloo bridge, 34 of Charing Cross bridge, and 19 of the House of Parliament. None of them used to barter for food or lodging as he did in his younger years as he was staying at the swanky Savoy Hotel. There is a citing of a sale of one of Monet’s paintings fetching 200,000 francs and another resource mentioning his net worth of over USD 1 million at this death.

As I come to the end of this blog post, I leave you with these thoughts.

  • Little has changed in the art market over the years since Monet. At Artistic Harmonies Association, we are disillusioned with the status quo and want to empower creatives today to found their movements while we found our own.   
  • Monet did not accomplish all of his success alone or overnight. In fact, the times when he was alone resulted in the most troubled and unproductive years.
  • Monet’s supporters included other artists, people who understood how to market his product (artwork), and those who accepted Monet’s obsession with his art journey, encouraging him to seek out what he wanted to accomplish.

Listen to our Art Chat series which focuses on some of what I have discussed here. We hope that you will join our movement. We look forward to the years ahead and all of our successes!



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