Monet, Claude (French, 1840-1926)

Camille Monet on Her Deathbed

Reference Type:
Camille Doncieux broke ties with her disapproving family to become the mistress of struggling artist Claude Monet in 1865. Monet’s family was against the relationship as well, especially when Camille became pregnant in 1867. Their son Jean was almost 3 years old when they were married at a town hall in Paris. After their second son, Michel, was born in 1878, Camille’s health declined rapidly, and the certainty of her death affected Monet’s desire to paint. By the spring of 1879, Camille could no longer leave the house. She died at age 32 in September of that year, presumably of uterine cancer. Monet painted her on her deathbed and told his friend, politician Georges Clemenceau, years later: “…I caught myself watching her tragic forehead, almost mechanically observing the sequence of changing colours 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….” (Adhémar, Hélène. Hommage à Claude Monet. Paris, France: SPADEM and Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1980, p. 201) With the tones of death he mixed the light and colors of the sunlight coming in the window. Notes by Mariann Smith
Art of Medicine
Chronic Disease/Chronic Illness
Critical Illness
Death and Dying
Musee d'Orsay, Paris