Monet before 1878
1870 La Plage à Trouville
2000 SOLD for £ 11M by Sotheby's
A view of the picturesque old fashioned beachfront at Trouville at high tide, oil on canvas 48 x 74 cm, was sold by Sotheby's for £ 11M on June 27, 2000, lot 14 and for £ 7.7M by Sotheby's on June 25, 2008, lot 10. The composition is nicely balanced with strollers under their beach umbrellas and sun hats at the middle distance, plus a few sailing boats and a steamer on the sea.
Already appealed by series, Monet also painted the same view at low tide. There is no evidence that they have ever been exhibited together.
The use of vivid colors in a happy scenery under the direct influence of Boudin marks a breakthrough in Monet's art.
2015 SOLD for £ 10.2M by Sotheby's
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, 2015, Sotheby's sold for £ 10.2M from a lower estimate of £ 7.5M an oil on canvas 54 x 74 cm titled L'Embarcadère (the pier) and signed by Monet, lot 29, 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 Impression Soleil Levant
1873 Le Pont du Chemin de Fer à Argenteuil
2008 SOLD for $ 41.5M by Christie's
The Seine is broad at that place. The two bridges, one for the road and the other for the rail, were rebuilt after the Franco-Prussian War.
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 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 Le Bassin d'Argenteuil
2021 SOLD for $ 28M by Christie's
Monet takes many views in Argenteuil from his new process of outdoor painting to which he adds the use of a bespoke studio boat. He keeps in touch on the site with the other avant-garde painters including Manet, Renoir and soon Caillebotte.
On November 11, 2021, Christie's sold for $ 28M from a lower estimate of $ 15M Le Bassin d'Argenteuil, oil on canvas 54 x 73 cm painted in late spring or summer 1874 in the wake of the first Impressionist exhibition, lot 15C. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
In a pleasant weather, there is busy boating on the river. White sails provide a striking contrast. A bearded man and his wife are standing on the jetty. The interplay of glowing colors in thick brush strokes is superseding lines and sharpness for sharing a sensation of quiet leisure.
#AuctionUpdate: 'Le bassin d'Argenteuil' by Claude Monet (1840-1926) achieved $27,840,000 at auction. Painted in 1874, the year of the landmark First Impressionist Exhibition, 'Le bassin d'Argenteuil' is a quintessential landscape of modernity in form and in subject.⠀ pic.twitter.com/TG8kKHSxmA— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) November 12, 2021
1874 Le Petit-Gennevilliers
2016 SOLD for $ 11.4M by Christie's
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, 2016, Christie's sold for $ 11.4M a view of Le Petit-Gennevilliers painted by Monet in 1874, oil on canvas 55 x 73 cm, lot 16C. 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.
winter 1874-1875 Effet de Neige
2022 SOLD for $ 25.6M by Christie's
La Mare (effet de neige), oil on canvas 60 x 82 cm, is dated 1875 by the artist. It was sold for $ 25.6M from a lower estimate of $ 18M by Christie's on May 12, 2022, lot 18C. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The fully frozen pond is viewed through a foreground of bare limbed trees. A few small characters enter its surface as in the old Dutch winter sceneries. The roofs of the modest houses around are covered with melting snow. The impressionist atmosphere is made of loose brushwork in thick layers.
In 1879 Monet was discouraged by a poor commercial feedback and by Camille's critically ailing condition. Caillebotte could not imagine an Exposition des Impressionistes without Monet and Durand-Ruel lent La Mare then in his ownership. Monet did not attend despite a full room had been dedicated to his and Pissarro's works.
1875 Au Jardin
2021 SOLD for $ 24.4M by Christie's
From 1871 Monet enjoyed living in Argenteuil with his wife Camille and their son Jean, born in 1867. From 1874 he rented a house with a private garden.
Au Jardin, la Famille de l'artiste, oil of canvas 60 x 80 cm, is an emanation from that happy time. It was painted during a sunny summer day in 1875. The foreground is a vibrant flowerbed of blooming roses, geraniums and gladioli in front of the shades of a screen of trees.
The garden is occupied with Camille, Jean and another person who is possibly a maid. Their discreet scale embedded within the lush nature provides an idyllic intimacy to the whole scenery.
Au Jardin was sold for $ 24.4M from a lower estimate of $ 12M by Christie's on November 11, 2021, lot 41C. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Painted in 1874 by Manet, La Famille Monet dans son jardin à Argenteuil is a close up view of a similar scene from behind the flowers, with some poultry added.
1876 Dans la Prairie
1988 SOLD for £ 14.3M by Sotheby's
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.
Dans la Prairie was sold by Sotheby's for £ 14.3M on June 28, 1988, lot 10 and for $ 15.4M on November 11, 1999, lot 107, and by Christie's for £ 11.2M on February 4, 2009, , lot 19. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1877 Gare Saint-Lazare
In 1876 Monet lost his enthusiasm for Argenteuil. He spends the last months of that year in a more rural atmosphere in Montgeron for the decoration of the Hoschedé residence. 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.
Monet painted 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.
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.
His Gares Saint-Lazare will remain forever an unparalleled set. 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.
2018 SOLD for $ 33M by Christie's
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 was sold for $ 33M by Christie's on May 8, 2018, lot 26. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
2018 SOLD for £ 25M by Christie's
The image is shared by Wikimedia.