No other artist, apart from J. M. W. Turner, tried as hard as Claude Monet (1840-1926) to capture light itself on canvas. Of all the Impressionists, it was the man Cezanne called "only an eye, but my God what an eye!" who stayed true to the principle of absolute fidelity to the visual sensation, painting directly from the object.
It could be said that Monet reinvented the possibilities of color. Whether it was through his early interest in Japanese prints, his time as a conscript in the dazzling light of Algeria, or his personal acquaintance with the major painters of the late 19th century, the work Monet produced throughout his long life would change forever the way we perceive both the natural world and its attendant phenomena. The high point of his explorations was the late series of water lilies, painted in his own garden at Giverny, which, in their approach towards almost total formlessness, are really the origin of abstract art.