Happy Birthday Claude Monet!! Considered the quintessential Impressionist, Claude Monet was born in 1840 in Paris, France. His father was a grocer and Claude was one of five children. His artistic career began as a caricaturist, but after studying formal painting for two years with Charles Gleyre and meeting Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley his career took a turn toward plein-air painting. Monet became the most adept at capturing the fleeting moment in the Impressionistic style. Monet and his wife Camille became close friends with Ernest and Alice Hoschede and following the death of first Camille and then Ernest, Claude and Alice married. As Monet gained wealth and stature he moved his combined family of eight into the house at Giverny where he was to spend the rest of his days. His construction of the famed Japanese water gardens was to be a major artistic endeavor that is still enjoyed by many today. Our family had the joy of touring his home and gardens in 2006. The garden is a virtual maze of day lilies, iris, grasses and water lilies. His work includes haystacks, Japanese water gardens and the Rouen Cathedral facade. Today I will include a favorite painting as well as memorable spot for me, the Japanese Footbridge (1899) in his beloved garden.