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Claude Monet | Failing sight

Monet's second wife, Alice, died in 1911, and his oldest son Jean, who had married Alice's daughter Blanche, Monet's particular favourite, died in 1914.
Their deaths left Monet depressed, as Blanche cared for him.
It was during this time that Monet began to develop the first signs of cataracts.

In 1913, Monet travelled to London to consult the German ophthalmologist Richard Liebreich.
He was prescribed new glasses and rejected cataract surgery for the right eye.
The next year, Monet, encouraged by Clemenceau, made plans to construct a new, large studio that he could use to create a "decorative cycle of paintings devoted to the water garden".

In the following years, his perception of colour suffered; his broad strokes were broader and his paintings were increasingly darker. To achieve his desired outcome, he began to label his tubes of paint, kept a strict order on his palette and wore a straw hat to negate glare.
He approached painting by formulating the ideas and features in his mind, taking the "motif in large masses" and transcribing them through memory and imagination. This was due to him being "insensitive" to the "finer shades of tonalities of and colors and seen close up".

Monet's output decreased as he became withdrawn, although he did produce several panel paintings for the French Government, from 1914-1918 to great financial success and he would later create works for the state.
His work on the "cycle of paintings" mostly occurred around 1916-1921.
Cataract surgery was once again recommended, this time by Clemenceau.
Monet - who was apprehensive, following Honoré Daumier and Mary Cassatt's botched surgeries - stated that he would rather have poor sight and perhaps abandon painting than forego "a little of these things that I love".

In 1919, Monet began a series of landscape paintings, "in full force" although he was not pleased with the outcome.
By October the weather caused Monet to cease plein air painting and the next month he sold four of the eleven Water Lilies paintings, despite his then-reluctance to relinquish his work.
The series inspired praise from his peers; his later works were well received by dealers and collectors, and he received 200,000 francs from one collector.

In 1922, a prescription of mydriatics provided short-lived relief. He eventually underwent cataract surgery in 1923. Persistent cyanopsia and aphakic spectacles proved to be a struggle.
Now "able to see the real colours", he began to destroy canvases from his pre-operative period.
Upon receiving tinted Zeiss lenses, Monet was laudatory, although his left eye soon had to be entirely covered by a black lens.
By 1925, his visual impairment was improved and he began to retouch some of his pre-operative works, with bluer water lilies than before.

During World War I, in which his younger son Michel served, Monet painted a Weeping Willow series as homage to the French fallen soldiers.
He became deeply dedicated to the decorations of his garden during the war. | Source: © Wikipedia