Claude MONET (1840-1926)
Chronology : 19th Century 1870-1879 1890-1899 1890 1900-1909 1905 1910-1919 1914 1919
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.
1881 Alice in Vétheuil
2014 SOLD for $ 34M including premium
He leaves Argenteuil in 1878 due to financial difficulties and settles in a village further down the Seine, at Vétheuil, with his beloved wife Camille and a couple of friends, Ernest and Alice Hoschedé. The untimely death of Camille the following year rushes Alice into the arms of the artist.
In 1881, Monet paints Alice in the garden of Vétheuil. He remembers the time when the white dress of Camille was expressing purity. Alice is quietly sewing in a rich surrounding of foliage. The sunlight filtering through a large tree provides a continuity in texture between the green and the woman in light blue.
This oil on canvas 81 x 65 cm is estimated $ 25M, for sale bySotheby's in New York on November 4, lot 29.
That year marks the peak and the end of the first impressionist period of Monet. He is watched by scandal when he can no longer hide his affair with Alice, a married woman. In the following year, his long lonesome trip in Normandy makes him wish to express the variations of light in the landscape at various times of the day.
Claude married Alice in 1892, after the death of Hoschedé.
1890 Between Harvest and Snow
2019 SOLD for $ 110M including premium
Monet loves this theme that is typical of country life without the need to add humans or birds. He begins with five landscapes in which two haystacks are distant from each other.
According to the sequence established by Wildenstein, the next sub-series is composed of two oil paintings on canvas 73 x 93 cm executed during the autumn of 1890. The alignment of two haystacks leads to the tall trees on the horizon, against the light in the last rays of sunset. For the first time the rest of the image is minimized. The predominance of the expression of colors over theme and form opens the way to modern art.
The second of these pictures, W1273, goes even further by managing to avoid the shadows of the two stacks. All that remains is the light that plays with the contours of stacks and trees and reveals the shimmering colors of the field. It was dated 1891 by the artist, certainly by reference to the year of the first public exhibition of the series, in the gallery of Durand-Ruel.
W1273 will be sold by Sotheby's in New York on May 14, lot 8. The March 15 press release announces an estimate in excess of $ 55M. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The deep nature of a landscape can no longer be expressed by a single snapshot. In this series which ends in January 1891 and totals 25 paintings, Monet has captured 25 moments of light of a wide variety : morning, evening, full sun, snow, mist. In the last pictures the color also comes to sublimate the perspective with the reduction of the theme to a single haystack. Also taken at sunset, W1290 was sold for $ 81M including premium by Christie's on November 16, 2016.
An enduring symbol of Impressionism from Claude Monet's iconic Haystacks series will lead an important private collection of 8 Impressionist works on offer in #SothebysImpMod Evening Sale on 14 May in #NYC. Learn more: https://t.co/B4xVl8QWFA pic.twitter.com/SMDorfOowE— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) March 15, 2019
1891 A Stack in Winter
2016 SOLD for $ 81M including premium
He had been very active throughout that period. His paintings of the Gare St Lazare in 1877 constituted a series that displayed the variations in color depending on the intensity of sunlight and on the thickness of smoke from the trains. His solitary travel in Normandy in 1882 for comforting after the death of Camille is very important : Monet demonstrates to himself that lighting is better than topography for expressing a mood.
When comes the end of summer 1890 Monet is ready for a new experience. The vegetation will disappear with winter. As for every year the grain stacks will remain alone in the middle of the fields until the wheat threshing of the spring. They will be the perfect support for Monet to perform his observations of colors through all weather conditions and at all moments of time. This series totaled 25 paintings.
Three of them have been specifically grouped as a ultimate achievement of the Meules in the catalogue raisonné prepared by Daniel Wildenstein. Only one stack is visible in front of a retracted landscape. It is truncated either from top or from one side. The color emotion is not challenged by that figurative feature reduced to nothing more than a bulky triangle. In 1896, in front of one of these paintings, Kandinsky was dazzled.
Another Meule from that group of three, oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm painted in 1891, reference Wildenstein 1290, was sold for $ 12M including premium by Sotheby's on 11 May 1999. It is now for sale by Christie's in New York on November 16, lot 9 B. The targeted price was disclosed at around $ 45M by the specialized press.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
1902 February in London
2015 SOLD for $ 40.5M including premium
Through his window at the Savoy Hotel, Claude watches Waterloo and Charing Cross bridges in the pink fog of the morning. On one of the first evenings he sees the sunset above the neo-Gothic buildings of the Houses of Parliament and the river. Like Constable, he will be an extraordinary interpreter of the English sky.
The best view is from the garden of St. Thomas's Hospital. The artist is already famous. He easily gets the authorization to work every day in this place. Every afternoon at 4:00, he leaves the hotel to retrieve or resettle his easels at the hospital.
The light changes at every moment with the clouds pushed by the wind and the instability of the fog. As for the poplars in 1892, Claude works on several paintings in parallel, finding and catching evening after evening the same tiny ephemeral details of the sunset light. His control is total and even his method for applying his brush varies depending on the desired effect.
This project is the most amazing in the history of painting. By considering the three motifs altogether (the two bridges and the Parliament), Claude maintains a hundred paintings during this 1900 stay. He leaves London before spring when the sun is now higher and the light has changed. He returns with his paintings in the following year but snow and cold prevent a new progress.
Claude finishes his paintings at Giverny and scrupulously notes the year of completion beside his signature. He considers the whole as inseparable until the 1904 exhibition by Durand-Ruel that gets a considerable success, anticipating his famous uncompromising attitude before the first exhibition of his Water Lilies series.
The subgroup of the Parliament from St. Thomas's consists of 19 oil paintings in a unique format 81 x 93 cm. One of them is estimated $ 35M for sale by Christie's in New York on May 11, lot 24A.
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.
The image is shared by Wikimedia:
1905 Water Landscapes
2015 SOLD for $ 54M including premium
The artist begins a synthesis of this new theme with his concern from the previous twenty years for the changing colors and reflections under various time and weather. He had the good fortune to catch in his own garden the most subtle theme of modern painting.
The paintings of the first year of the Nymphéas series are very rare on the art market. One of them, 81 x 100 cm, was sold for £ 18.5 million including premium by Sotheby's on 19 June 2007. In this close-up view, the edge of the pond is already off the field, also providing an impression of infinity that anticipates Mondrian.
In 1905, the water lilies are more sparse to offer a better role to reflections that became recognizable although the trees are still out of field. The plants form a floating cohort simulating a nice horizontal movement.
A view in clear weather under a gentle sun, oil on canvas 90 x 100 cm, was sold for $ 44M including premium by Christie's on November 7, 2012.
On May 5 in New York, Sotheby's sells an oil on canvas 81 x 100 cm, lot 30 estimated $ 30M. Also dated 1905, it shows the blocks at the water surface in an atmosphere of early or late hour providing a superb harmony of deep blues and greens.
1905 Monet overwhelmed by his Nymphéas
2012 SOLD 44 M$ including premium
Constable had been the painter of the wind. Monet was the artist of the water surface. After the development of Impressionism, the Nymphéas series is the second revolution brought about by Monet in art history.
In June 19, 2007, Sotheby's sold £ 18.5 million including premium an oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm. Dated 1904, it demonstrates the first systematic experiments on this subject: the horizon disappears to let the water remaining alone in space. The green reflections are almost abstract, already.
The oil on canvas, 90 x 100 cm, for sale by Christie's in New York on November 7, is dated in the following year, 1905. The water lilies have a botanical accuracy, the more readable reflections are a better tribute to the pleasure of the garden. It is estimated $ 30M, and illustrated in the release shared by Artdaily.
Durand-Ruel was the first to understand and support the transformation of the art of Monet. In 1909, he assembled in an exhibition 48 Nymphéas by Monet, including the painting now for sale at Christie's. Through this unique theme, careful observers could detect the infinite variety of the artistic creation.
POST SALE COMMENT
By its date and quality, this painting is one of the most outstanding from the Nympheas series: $ 44M including premium.
1906 Monet and the Passion of Water
2014 SOLD 32 M£ including premium
Here is how I announced in 2010 this masterpiece that was previously sold in 2000 :
Claude Monet is the painter of the elusive. His studies of light variations have transformed the Western art. He should not be regarded as a leader, but rather as a great creator.
And the Durand-Ruel gallery was a great instigator of talent. In 1905, Monet is 65 years old, already. He departed from the excitement of the life in Paris to enjoy his garden at Giverny. An exhibition project for Durand-Ruel made his passion. The exhibition took place in 1909, and Monet found there the theme that monopolized his art until the end of his life: the water lilies in his garden.
This series of "Nymphéas" mark the total success of an impossible challenge: to show in painting the transparency of water. The flowers are seen obliquely, with perspective, lighting and reflections being different each time. They are widely spaced, and between them is coming the incredible illusion: the observer sees the surface of the water. They are not abstract, far away, but the lack of horizon has certainly influenced the non-figurative art.
On May 8th 2000, Christie's sold for $ 20.9 million including premium an oil on canvas, 90 x 100 cm. This painting has all the qualities. Made in 1906, it was one of the highlights of the exhibition of 1909. The light is established by very subtle pastel shades, and the reflections are superb.
POST SALE COMMENT
This painting is one of the masterpieces from Monet's early Nymphéas. It was sold for £ 32 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1914-1917 The New Water Lilies
2018 SOLD for $ 85M including premium
Based in Giverny since 1883 the artist wants to create a water garden. In 1894 he purchases from Latour-Marliac plants from 32 different species including a yellow Nymphaea created in 1888 and a pink Nymphaea created in 1892. His interest in these hybrids is not immediate but his curiosity increases.
These new water lilies will become the stars of his garden. Monet paints his first Nymphéas in 1895, displaying the plants on the water in close-up with a botanical accuracy on canvases less than 1 m wide.
The artist is delighted by his garden. In 1904 the nymphéa pond becomes one of his favorite themes. The water lilies float in a cohort, bringing in conjunction with the reflections a vision of the surface of the water. In the same year he buys four other hybrids to Latour-Marliac
1914 is a terrible year. His son Jean dies in February, less than three years after Alice. International relations are desperate. Fortunately his friend Georges Clemenceau pushes him back to work by suggesting the project of the Grandes Décorations.
This new phase includes a major modification in Monet's art, the use of large formats of canvas. He looks more closely at the details of the flowers in his garden. A group of giant iris at water's edge 200 x 100 cm was sold for £ 10.8M including premium by Christie's on June 23, 2015.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells as lot 10 Nymphéas en fleur, oil on canvas 140 x 180 cm painted in his signature style of 1914-1917. The large size enables here a synthesis of the two visions of the artist. Nine big flowers in five groups have retrieved the details of the earliest series while the leaves and reflections are positioning the surface of the water on the whole of this image with no horizon.
#LiveLikeARockefeller: ‘The closer you get to the canvas, the more you feel like you’re inside it. The rest of the world vanishes,’ says Rebecca Wei, our President of Christie’s Asia, of the Rockefellers’ ‘Nymphéas en fleur’ by Claude #Monet.https://t.co/mT8EnKHNAN pic.twitter.com/LrOsMEJU7F— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) April 24, 2018
1919 Bassins aux Nymphéas by Monet
2008 SOLD for £ 41M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
This decorative ambition led him in 1917 to test panoramic formats, around 130 x 200 cm, the largest dimension for which he is able to paint outdoors using a system of ropes and weights. He multiplies the sketches with, according to his signature habit, the greatest variety of colors expressing the different lights of the day.
Under the influence of Clémenceau, the project becomes a patriotic symbol, titled Les Grandes Décorations, which he completes in 1926.
From the start of the preparation phase, Monet attached the greatest importance to the coherence of the whole. Nevertheless in 1919 he paints for the trade four finished works with an especially high quality, which he sells in November of the same year to Bernheim-Jeune.
One of these paintings is in the Metropolitan Museum. Another one was sold by Christie's on November 11, 1992 for $ 12M including premium, a good result for that period of recession in the art market. The third was cut in half before 1944. The left side is in the Tel Aviv Museum. The right side was sold for $ 27M including premium by Christie's on May 12, 2016.
The fourth painting, oil on canvas 100 x 200 cm, was sold by Christie's on June 24, 2008 for £ 41M including premium worth at that date $ 80M, lot 16. The groups of leaves form a frame around the reflections of the trees in the blue water. The image is shared by Wikimedia.