Monet before 1878
1871 Pleasure and Boating
2015 SOLD for £ 10.2M including premium
In 1869 Monet and Renoir assiduously attend La Grenouillère, a place for fun and boating founded in 1850 on an island of the Seine at Croissy, far from the austere bourgeois way of life. Also far from academic doctrines, the two young artists are experimenting with compositions and colors, with a sharp line that does not yet announce the Impressionism.
On February 3 in London, Sotheby's sells an oil on canvas 54 x 74 cm titled L'Embarcadère (the pier) and signed by Monet, lot 29 estimated £ 7.5 million, showing the quiet activities of groups at the edge of a river.
This picture is typical of the style of the young artists in La Grenouillère, but some details enable to locate it at Zaandam in 1871 when Claude is now the gentle husband of Camille. The young woman with a pink parasol, also figured in another view of Zaandam, is certainly Camille and some architectural details appear to be Dutch.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1872 Just before Impressionism
2013 SOLD 6.2 M£ including premium
A Marine painted in Le Havre, oil on canvas 48 x 63 cm, will become the emblem of modern art. The artist captures the subtle and ephemeral colors of a sunrise. The drawing is minimized in favor of the symphony of colors. Two years later, he will title this painting Impression (soleil levant).
On June 19 in London, Sotheby's sells 'le pont de bois', oil on canvas 54 x 73 cm painted on the same year.
The view shows the bridge at Argenteuil under reconstruction after being destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War. The temporary wooden structure already enables the crossing and is animated with walkers and a horse-drawn carriage.
The composition is very subtle with a double symmetry that may have been inspired by Japanese prints: a vertical symmetry with the reflections in the Seine river and a horizontal symmetry accentuated by the scaffoldings.
The evening colors are subtle and varied, and draw the attention to the flickering reflections due to the lapping of the river. The perspective is not useful: the distance to the background is expressed by a halo of mist.
The wooden bridge is one of the earliest masterpieces by Monet. The purchase of this painting by Edouard Manet as early as 1872 was a great encouragement for the young artist. Now coming from the Rau collection, it is sold in aid of UNICEF. The announced estimate at £ 4M is too low. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price for this early Monet: £ 6.2 million including premium, a little below its higher estimate.
Shared on Wikimedia :
1873 Railway Bridge at Argenteuil by Monet
2008 SOLD for $ 41.5M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Monet is one of the very first artists to take an interest in the railway as a symbol of modern life. The train comfortably carries the boaters, and its smoke enlivens the landscape. Until his series of views of the Gare Saint-Lazare in 1877, the artist expresses his enthusiasm for this new industry.
Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil is an oil on canvas 60 x 98 cm painted in 1873. The bridge mounted on four pairs of pillars goes through the image over its entire length. Two trains are crossing one another, one of them being mostly noticeable by the smoke of its locomotive in the blue summer sky. Two small sailboats pass under the bridge, and two men on the quay look peacefully at the river.
The bridge is the main theme of the picture thanks to the absence of details on the two banks. It is the only view in which Monet uses this specific bridge as a symbol of modernism. In the following year his paintings on the same site are to study the variation of light.
Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil was sold for $ 41.5M including premium by Christie's on May 6, 2008, lot 21. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Renoir put his easel at the same place, probably side by side with his friend. Compared to the clarity of Monet's drawing, this sketch by Renoir is too tormented and not spacious enough. One year before the first impressionist exhibition, Monet appears here as a master of the expression of modern life in a classic style.
1874 The Rustle of the Seine
2016 SOLD for $ 11.4M including premium
Claude Monet is confident and enthusiastic. During the summer he paints tirelessly the Seine river at Argenteuil where he lives. The grass of the meadow and the reflection in the water are the sources of his new inspiration, the real birth of Impressionnisme.
Monet appreciates that his best ally is the spontaneity. The emotion is generated by the speed that liberates the instinct. He improves his technique by varying the brushstrokes by topic on the same canvas : horizontal mark for water and comma shaped wrist movement in the tree. The skilled hand of the artist generates a vibration that reflects the tremor and rustling of water and wind. Monet may now match Constable.
Le Petit-Gennevilliers is right in front of Argenteuil, on the other side of the river. Monet works outdoors: he set up his easel on a barge under the railway bridge. Boats for rent await the walkers at this point, increasing the charm of the scene. A painting by Manet shows Monet busy at work at that very place.
On May 12 in New York, Christie's sells a view of Le Petit-Gennevilliers painted by Monet in 1874, oil on canvas 55 x 73 cm, lot 16C estimated $ 12M. The weather is gray and the sun is screened, providing an atmosphere altogether soft and quivering which is a beautiful effect of the early impressionist experiences.
Since 1901 this painting did not leave the collection of the philanthropist HO Havemeyer and his wife Louisine who were in their time the best connoisseurs of impressionism in the United States.
1874 The Society of the Impressionnistes
2012 SOLD 8.8 M$ including premium
During the Second Empire and the beginning of the Third Republic, the dedication for a French artist was to make his work accepted in the Salons organized by the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
However the modern trend was shifting too much from the classic taste, and the best of them failed to win the honor. In 1874, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Degas and Berthe Morisot helped each other by creating the Société anonyme coopérative des artistes peintres, sculpteurs et graveurs. At their first show in the same year, a bitter critic designates them under the name of Impressionnistes.
The oil on canvas by Monet, 54 x 73 cm, for sale by Aguttes in Paris on June 27, was made precisely in that year. It is illustrated on the catalog page shared by LiveAuctioneers.
This is a typical Impressionist artwork. This view taken near Argenteuil bridge has for main subject the grasses on the slope, so present in their mixed colors that they do not need to be supported by a drawing. The bridge itself, which quietly closes the horizon, and the Seine river have mostly the role of locating the scene.
The painting, estimated € 6M, has the best possible source for a work of this movement: in 1876 it was bought to Monet by Gustave Caillebotte.
In 1876, a young woman is lying in a similar meadow, although with more flowers. This masterpiece of early Impressionism, oil on canvas 60 x 82 cm, was sold £ 11.2 million including premium by Christie's on February 4, 2009.
Unsold in 2011, this lot was sold $ for 8.8 million including premium by FAAM (Fine Art Auctions Miami) in Miami Beach on December 6, 2012.
1875 River Bank in Argenteuil
2014 SOLD 8.5 M£ including premium
The transition was not immediate. In the early years, Monet had retained the processing of light in landscapes by Courbet. His line was sharp and his drawing met the perspectives.
The first basic development by Monet was to privilege the pleasant atmosphere of the place instead of tourism effects for which photography was quite enough. With his friends, he tirelessly changed the view while expressing all shades of color and light.
In 1874, the first exhibition of their society of artists disturbs the critics and is not a success, but Monet goes bolder. This so effective action of his brush that removes the lines appears at that time. This is the very beginning of Impressionism, a wording that these young artists will not accept until 1877.
One of the coolest features in Monet painting is the fact that the removal of contours does not relieve him for showing the strict proportions. Without being completely straight, the banks of the Seine river and the borders of the road are leading the way up to the horizon with a vanishing point which structures the whole image.
This impressionist style in its classical period recreates the atmosphere of the place, with its sun, greenery and freshness. Monet is now the best successor to Constable.
An oil on canvas 60 x 80 cm painted in 1875 was sold for $ 7.6 million at Christie's on May 14, 1997. It is estimated £ 7M for sale by Sotheby's in London on June 23.
POST SALE COMMENT
This beautiful example of early Impressionism by Monet was sold for £ 8.5 million including premium.
Please watch the video where Sotheby's introduces the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. collection including this view of Argenteuil and a very bright view of Antibes by the same artist.
1875 Melting Snow along the Seine River
2015 SOLD for $ 6.4M including premium
Now living in Argenteuil, he observes the life on and around the Seine with its sails, bridges and embankments. After a few years, which are the key period of the definition of the Impressionniste style, Monet becomes a landscape artist looking for a communion with earth and light. Humans still appear in the scenery, but their role is reduced to identify the scale.
The artist walks along the river and places his easel on the banks. A view of Argenteuil painted in 1875, 60 x 80 cm, with a beautiful contrast of light and shadow under a dappled sky was sold for £ 8.5 million including premium by Sotheby's on June 23, 2014.
Monet used to say that he was a Parisian but in his youth the influence of Eugène Boudin had attracted him to the countryside. He considered the snow as an atmosphere and not as a disturbance and it became one of his favorite themes.
On May 5 in New York, Sotheby's sells an oil on canvas 61 x 100 cm painted in 1875 showing the melting snow on the banks at Epinay, upstream of Argenteuil. The light is filtered through a cloudy sky. The common landscape has provided the opportunity for a masterpiece. This painting is estimated $ 6M, lot 49.
1876 Monet, Impressionist Artist working in Argenteuil
1988 SOLD for £ 14.3M by Sotheby's
2009 SOLD 11.2 M£ including premium
Claude Monet arrived at Argenteuil in 1871. A quarter of an hour from Paris by train, this town of 8,000 people was at the border between the modernity of the city and the peaceful life of the country.
First, he is is listening to progress: the train on Argenteuil bridge, that Christie's sold $ 41 million charge included on 6 May 2008, was made in 1873.
He then experimented with intimate outdoor scenes, symbolized by the oil on canvas entitled Dans la Prairie (In the meadows), 60 x 82 cm, that Christie's will sell on February 4 in London, lot 19. Painted in 1876, it represents the artist's wife, Camille. She reads, surrounded by finely nuanced flowers, an umbrella behind her.
Despite the protests generated by the first two exhibitions of the Monet group in 1874 and 1876, his art had already champions, including Théodore Duret who bought our painting. In 1877, the tide is turning. The third exhibition, for which Duret lent his painting, is a success, and the group accepts the designation of Impressionists that had been given to them by some traditionalist art critics.
Talking price. Dans la Prairie has been sold twice by Sotheby's. In 1988, when the bubble began to swell, the artwork fetched 14.3 M£ (information provided in Christie's catalog). In 1999, under less favorable conditions, the hammer fell at 14 M$.
In 2009, the historic importance of this work suggests that it is resistant to the difficulties of the art market. Christie's hopes it in the region of £ 15 million. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
POST SALE COMMENT
Times are hard, but this historic Monet was sold respectably: £ 11.2 million including premium
1877 The Great Station of Modernism
2018 SOLD for £ 25M including premium
Argenteuil decidedly does not inspire him any more. Just back from Montgeron he left for Paris with an authorization from the railway administration to work inside the Gare Saint-Lazare.
From January to March 1877 he made a sort of report composed of twelve artworks, four inside the station and eight outside, in varied weather conditions. A passer-by narrated that he saw Claude Monet perched on a stack of crates with his brush in his hand, feverishly waiting for the ambient light to match his expectations.
The choice of this theme is unexpected for this artist but is certainly not a self attempt to be disgusted from the smokes of the city. A better hypothesis is that Monet considered himself as a leader of the new outdoor painting and did not want to be overcome by the urban pictures of Caillebotte and Manet.
Indeed when the third exhibition of the Impressionnistes opened in April 1877 his Saint-Lazare series was already completed and it featured prominently in his selection. The rejection of modernist themes by Monet comes one year later when Camille fails to recover from a child birth. Life and work in the countryside become indispensable for Monet and his family. His Gares Saint-Lazare will remain forever an unparalleled set.
On May 8, 2018 Christie's sold for $ 33M including premium the only sunny image of the group, 61 x 81 cm.
On June 20 in London, Christie's sells another outdoor view, oil on canvas of the same size, lot 25 B estimated £ 22M. The foreground is intentionally empty to draw a better attention to the background where the thick steam from the trains mingle in a cloudy sky. The two locomotives and the tall arches of the glass roofs of the station provide the illusion of a picturesque instantaneous.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1877 The Ultimate Train of Claude Monet
2018 SOLD for $ 33M including premium
In January 1877 Monet spends a few days in Paris for a series on the Gare Saint-Lazare, one of the best symbols of modernism. He paints twelve canvases showing the interior with the platforms or the outside with trains coming or leaving. The result of this creativity is significant. The nauseating smoke of trains mingles with a heavily loaded sky and makes you want to run away.
Only one of the twelve paintings, 61 x 81 cm, escapes this pessimism thanks to a bright sunshine. The view is taken towards the double tunnel of the Batignolles. On the left the smoke is a fairly sharp cone. On the right the train has not yet come out and its smoke is diffused in all directions in the square, creating a veil in the atmosphere of clear weather.
In the best tradition of early Impressionnisme, this painting offers an ambience through which we can almost perceive heat and smell. Rockefeller did not make a mistake when he bought it. He liked this artwork very much while noting that the asking price had seemed high. It is for sale by Christie's in New York on May 8, lot 26.
This series marks a decisive turning point in Claude Monet's career. For the very last time he had tried to illustrate the progress. For nearly half a century he will stubbornly devote to landscapes, to monuments and to his garden.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1878 Fleurs dans un Pot
2021 SOLD for $ 10.4M by Sotheby's
#AuctionUpdate: At least 3 collectors compete for Claude Monet’s stunning still life, 'Fleurs dans un pot (Roses et brouillard)' from 1878 soars to $10.4 million. This is an extremely rare genre for the artist, who ceased painting still lifes by the 1890s. pic.twitter.com/xV5SLwwOpE— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 13, 2021