Arts Everyday Living: What Do You Know About Monet, Part 4–Portrait of Jean, Beloved Son

Claude Monet, The Cradle: Camille with the Artist’s Son Jean, 1867, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: The Cradle: Camille with the Artist’s Son Jean

Artist: Claude Monet (1840-1926)




Did you know that Claude Monet began his career as a teenager and continued to create until his death at 86 in 1926? Most of us are familiar with Monet’s iconic Impressionist works. However Monet, like any great artist, expressed himself in multiple styles. So for the next month, experience the artistic world of the French master, from the young, aspiring painter to one of the most famous figures of his day.

Here is the fourth entry of our series:

#4—1867 was an important year in Monet’s life (see: entry #3, 10/22/23).  For in August, 1867, his son Jean was born on the 8th of the month in Paris to his then mistress Camille Doncieux. The couple would not marry until June, 1870.* 

Jean is clearly the center of attention in this first portrait by Monet of his oldest  child.  Snugly tucked in by his mother, Jean lies on his back, ready for a nap. Or is he actually awakening, holding onto an oversized rattle, staring upward at the emerging world.  Do you think tiny Jean is about to cry?

The cradle itself is quite impressive, decorated with a floral fabric extending downward from above. The colors fresh and vibrant, anticipating the bright palette of the Impressionists in the coming years. Jean would continue to be a beloved model of his father into the 1870s and 1880s.


*Camille was disapproved of by Monet’s family and he kept his relationship with her a secret. Residing with his aunt in Saint-Adresse in his native Normandy, while Camille remained in Paris during the latter half of 1867. 





In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.

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