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Alley of Trees, Gournay, 1857. Pencil. The World Children's Art Museum, Okazaki, Japan
MONET'S EARLIEST KNOWN WORKS of art are drawings dating from his teenage years in the bustling coastal community of Le Havre, where his father established a business supplying provisions to ships and set up a comfortable middle-class home. The boy's talent for drawing was nurtured by a culturally informed circle that included his mother, his aunt, and several acquaintances that gathered regularly for informal recitals in the family's parlor.

The young Monet took part in drawing classes as part of his primary education, but he also developed a passion for going out on his own and sketching the landscape, filling albums with views of his hometown and its environs. At the same time, inspired by illustrations in Parisian newspapers, he took up the genre of caricature. It was as a caricaturist that Monet earned his first modest commissions that would establish his reputation as an up-and-coming artist.