Sargent usually presented the sketches he made of friends and fellow artists to them as gifts, as was the tradition in artistic circles. This sketch of Claude Monet (1840–1926) is an exception. It remained with Sargent all his life and was in his studio when he died, along with several works by Monet that Sargent collected.
Monet is shown sitting at an easel painting a landscape outdoors. This portrait has assumed an importance in the history of Impressionism because it shows the French artist doing what he advocated, painting directly from nature. It certainly had a personal significance for Sargent, who greatly admired Monet, as it commemorates their artistic relationship.