Monet was born in Paris, France. His family moved to Le Havre in Normandy when he was five. His father wanted him to go into the family grocery store business, but Claude wanted to paint. Eugene Boudin, an artist who worked extensively on plein air paintings - quick sketches made in open air - at beaches in Normandy, taught him some painting techniques in 1856. Monet had to serve in the army in Algeria. His aunt Lecadre agreed to get him out of the army if he took an art course at a university. He left the army, but he did not like the traditional painting styles the university taught.
He studied with Charles Gleyre. Monet could also use the studio and paint its models for a low cost. He painted Camille Doncieux, and later they got married. He painted Women in the Garden in the late 1860s. They moved to a house in Argenteuil, near the Seine River, after he and his wife had their first child. They lived there for six years until Camille died; he painted her on her death-bed. Monet moved to a house in Giverny where he planted a large garden.
In 1872 Monet painted Impression: Sunrise (now in the Musee Marmottan, Paris), which was hung in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. A hostile critic coined the name "Impressionists" by commenting that their paints were indeed "impressions" rather than finished works of art. By the third exhibition in 1876 the painters we know as the Impressionists were using the term about themselves.
Monet was exceptionally fond of painting controlled nature - his own garden, his water lilies, his pond, and his bridge. His garden had a meadow with willows and a marsh. He also painted up and down the banks of the Seine.
He married Alice Hoschede in 1892, who he had an affair with while he was married to Camille.
In the 1880s and 1890s Monet painted a series of paintings of the Rouen Cathedral from different points of view and at different times of the day. Twenty views of the cathedral were exhibited at the Durand-Ruel gallery in 1895. He also painted series paintings of haystacks.