London and Venice by Monet
See also : France Monet Cities Venice
Chronology : 1900-1909 1902 1903 1904 1908
The artist returns alone in the following year to the same hotel for a longer stay, in February and March. He loved the winter fog of London. Not for its mist but for its ever vanishing colors.
After Constable, Monet was a skilled interpreter of the English sky. He was more directly influenced from the atmosphere of London by Turner in the 1830s and by the nocturnal colors of the Thames by Whistler in the 1870s.
The light changes at every moment with the clouds pushed by the wind and the instability of the fog. He observes that some effects of light through the fog do not exceed five minutes. His control is total and even his method for applying his brush varies depending on the desired effect.
He applies every day an ambitious working plan with a schedule of the utmost rigor. Taking advantage of the benevolent help of the Savoy, he prepares dozens of canvases to translate in parallel all the shimmers of pink fog in the morning on Waterloo Bridge and in the early afternoon on Charing Cross Bridge.
In February 1900 he adds as a third view the sunset above the neo-Gothic buildings of the Houses of Parliament and the river. This activity was requiring the outdoor installation of his easels in parallel in the garden of St. Thomas's Hospital, as he had done in Giverny in 1891 for painting the Peupliers. Already a famous artist, Monet easily gets the authorization to work in this place. Every afternoon at 4:00, he leaves the hotel to retrieve or resettle his easels at the hospital.
The change of light in the early spring terminates the session when the sun is now higher and the light has changed. By considering the three views altogether, Monet started a hundred paintings during the 1900 stay.
He leaves London before spring when the sun is now higher and the light has changed. He returns with his paintings in 1901 during the same season but snow and cold prevent a further progress.
That selection of only three view points, all of them along the River Thames, for expressing the atmosphere of a big city was an amazing artistic conception. Monet is definitely not a tourist : the rest of the city does not interest him.
He reworked all of them simultaneously in his studio at Giverny and signed them with the date of the completion. He thus painted 41 views of the elegant Waterloo bridge, 37 views of Charing Cross bridge and 19 views of the Towers of Parliament. He considered that work as a whole and did not give visibility before the last of them was finished in 1904. Their exhibition by Durand-Ruel in that year got a considerable success. He also made pastels.
1902 Le Parlement
2015 SOLD for $ 40.5M by Christie's
Le Parlement - soleil couchant, numbered 1603 by Wildenstein, One of them was sold for $ 40.5M by Christie's on May 11, 2015, lot 24A. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Dated 1902, this painting is one of the first that was completed by the artist, perhaps because the very expressive sky is particularly exciting. Despite the clouds, the sun plays behind the high tower and the same pink shades apply to the edges of the clouds and to the reflections in the river.
1903 Le Parlement
2022 SOLD for $ 76M by Christie's
Both sceneries were captured at about the same time at around 5 o'clock in another twilight, W1603 at a later date. W1603 displays a striking appearance of the sun amidst dramatic clouds while W1604 is foggy in violets, lilacs, blues and deep pink with a ghostly silhouette of the Parliament buildings.
W1604 was sold for $ 76M from a lower estimate of $ 40M by Christie's on May 12, 2022, lot 10C.
1903 Waterloo Bridge soleil voilé
2022 SOLD for $ 65M by Christie's
Waterloo Bridge, soleil voilé, oil on canvas 65 x 100 cm dated 1903, was sold by Christie's for $ 8.3M on November 11, 1997, lot 107, and for $ 65M by Christie's on November 9, 2022, lot 41. It had been exhibited at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1904. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Specific details including a single boat on the Thames are immersed in the haze of smoke and fog. The carriages are expressed in an evanescent glittering procession across the bridge, in a later moment than the early morning usually practiced by Monet for this view.
1903 Waterloo Bridge effet de brouillard
2021 SOLD for $ 48M by Christie's
The intense fog displays here an ethereal blue iridescent with soft hues of violet, pink and orange, dissolving the animation of the passing carriages and reducing the shores to mere shadows. This opus had been included in 1904 in the ground-breaking Durand-Ruel exhibition entitled Claude Monet : Vues de la Tamise à Londres.
1904 Waterloo Bridge effet de brume
2022 SOLD for £ 30M by Christie's
Waterloo Bridge temps couvert, oil of canvas 65 x 100 cm dated 1904, was sold for £ 18M by Christie's on June 18, 2007, lot 14. This view displays three areas of bright yellow sun light, in the sky revealing the shore, under the arches of the bridge, and on the rippling surface of the river in front of the shadow of the bridge.
On June 28, 2022, Christie's sold for £ 30M Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume, lot 34.
This oil on canvas 65 x 100 cm dated 1904 displays a moment in the early morning on the scenery of the bridge viewed from the East. The yellow bursts of the sunlit break through a misty haze in a radiant glow promising a brighter weather, rarely found in the Waterloo Bridge paintings. Golden reflections appear in the river. The far bank is nearly canceled by the mist.
Belonging since 1851 to the Bulova family of watchmakers, this painting had been recently on long term loan to the Basel Kunstmuseum.
#AuctionUpdate #ClaudeMonet’s ‘Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume’ achieves £30,059,500. The work is a key painting from Monet’s landmark series, ‘Vues du Londres (Views of London)’, in which he evocatively captures the shifting character of the famous bridge. pic.twitter.com/EKPl0vOA9E— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) June 28, 2022
1903 Charing Cross Bridge
2019 SOLD for $ 27.6M by Sotheby's
This set of nearly one hundred paintings executed in parallel on only three themes was a project without equivalent in the history of art. The Thames in London in the winter fog of was perhaps the only condition in the world worthy to manage such a feat. The mists of Venice are less fugitive, probably explaining the dismay of Monet at the beginning of his stay in the City of the Doges in 1908.
In 1912, everything is ready. The exhibition of the views of Venice by Monet at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune enchants the most demanding visitors.
Monet is not the first artist to express the ethereal light of Venice. The contribution of his art compared to Turner's views is the fact that Monet, only interested in the atmosphere, removes any anecdotal animation. The gondola that slides in front of the Piazza serves only to underline a strong point of the composition.
2013 SOLD for £ 19.7M by Sotheby's
Monet was a painter of nature and water. He must completely soak in the atmosphere of a place for performing his art. The old palaces of Venice are a symbiosis of stone and water. After a week of reluctance, the artist is finally charmed and begins to work.
On June 19, 2013, Sotheby's sold for £ 19.7M a view of the Palazzo Contarini, lot 42. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia..
This palace is very close to the residence of his American hostess where Monet is housed at the beginning of his stay, and this oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm certainly expresses his first favorable impressions of Venice.
Monet is not a tourist. The palace is shown in front view and the horizon is reduced to almost nothing. The color shades of the old walls and of their reflections in the waters of the canal are sumptuous. The vibrant impressionist style offers a symphony of rare colors in a single density: amethyst, lilac, cobalt blue.
2019 SOLD for £ 27.5M by Sotheby's
Monet arrives in Venice on October 1, 1908. He stays there for two and a half months, with his canvases, palettes and colors. The challenge is immense : all artists have loved Venice. The interpretation of the sun through the mist has already been made, by Turner in 1841. Monet will focus on the reflections of sky and stones in the lapping of the canals and of the lagoon.
The view of the Palazzo Contarini, sold for £ 19.7M by Sotheby's in 2013, painted at the beginning of his session, is interesting by its false awkwardness. The composition strictly divided into two equal areas for monument and canal, and without horizon, would repel a buyer of postcards. The attention is all the more stirred to the beauty of the textures and to the multicolored reflections.
Now sure of the quality of his art, Monet emboldens himself to compose topographical views of the greatest classicism. Two almost identical close views of the Palazzo Ducale confirm that the artist is more interested in the special atmosphere of Venice, which he calls the "enveloppe", than in the variations over the hours. These views were his first work in the morning, starting at 8 o'clock.
One of them, 81 x 99 cm, is kept at the Brooklyn Museum. The other one, 81 x 93 cm, was sold for £ 27.5M by Sotheby's on February 26, 2019, lot 6.
When Monet returns home, he sells to Bernheim-Jeune most of his views of Venice. He continues to finish them until their triumphal exhibition in 1912. After the exhibition he further modifies one of the views of the Ducal Palace, in search of the perfect rendering of his artistic conceptions.
The painting that goes on sale is probably the artwork that was improved in 1912 or 1913. The balance of shades is very successful, without a dominant color although the details of the palette are bright. The texture of the surface of the water is of a great regularity. The majestic palace appears blurry, as de-focused : it was not the major theme of the image.
Please watch the videos shared by Sotheby's.
W1739 Grand Canal
2015 SOLD for £ 23.7M by Sotheby's
Venice succeeded in seducing Monet. Before the end of the first month, he starts one of these series of paintings that are his passion and the culmination of his art, following the cathedrals of Rouen, the haystacks and, more recently, Waterloo bridge.
In his previous series, Monet interpreted the light in various times of the day. Venice is the most subtle of his themes because the artist appreciates that the city offers every day a different harmony. He executes six times in the same format the same view of the Grand Canal in the direction of Santa Maria della Salute.
The real theme of this series is the light of Venice sifted through the haze. The famous dome and an almost imperceptible gondola confirm that such an atmosphere can only occur in Venice. Monet managed the tour de force to bring a new style in the immeasurable iconography of the city of the Doges.
One of the six views, oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm, was sold for £ 23.7M by Sotheby's on February 3, 2015, lot 15. Please watch the video shared by the auction house :
W1740 Grand Canal
2022 SOLD for $ 57M by Sotheby's
These after lunch pictures ended at 3 o'clock Claude's working day. He would then relax until twilight in a gondola tour with Alice.
The weather is sunny. The difference between both pieces is the attempt by the artist to catch subtle changes in the mirage-like atmosphere and haze of the water scenery caught in another early afternoon.
The surface of the canal is iridescent of a wide range of reflected colors providing the effect of a splashing water. Far away gondolas have been added.
This oil on canvas was sold for $ 57M by Sotheby's on May 18, 2022, lot 8. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.