Portrait of an Artist: Claude Monet

Quarto/Wide Eyed Editions. Jan. 2020. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780711248779.
Gr 2-4–The French painter Claude Monet, one of the founders of French Impressionism, is the subject of this latest entry in the “Portrait of an Artist” series. This illustrated biography concentrates on his early years; his light-filled painting style; his courtship of his first wife, Camille; and his family. Brownridge’s choice of details and the simplicity of her text make the book most appropriate for younger readers. (“Claude had lots of friends.” “Eugène [Boudin] thought that a real artist needed to learn how to use serious tricky materials like oil paint, and paint landscapes instead of people.”) The text appears directly on Bonne-Müller’s illustrations (likely painted with acrylics and digitally manipulated). Although she makes an effort to reflect Monet’s interest in the landscape and natural world, Bonne-Müller’s depictions are rendered in her own distinctive style. In the context of the narrative, 14 of the artist’s paintings are faithfully reproduced but, perhaps because of the size or the printing process, seldom convey Monet’s mastery of light. As in previous titles in the series, the works don’t necessarily appear in the story in the order in which they were painted, but the 10 described more fully in the back matter are arranged chronologically.
VERDICT Useful where artist biographies are of interest. Monet’s garden, the focus of Pia Valentinis and Giancarlo Ascari’s graphic biography, The Garden of Monsieur Monet, is, here, simply the finale, but the two books would make an interesting pairing.

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