Claude MONET (1840-1926)
See also : France Vétheuil to Giverny London and Venice Bassin aux nymphéas Landscape Venice Cities
Chronology : 19th century 1890-1899 1890 1900-1909 1903 1905 1907 1908 1910-1919 1914 1919
1872 Impression Soleil Levant
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
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.
1890 W1273 Meules
2019 SOLD for $ 110M by Sotheby's
Monet loves this theme that is typical of country life without the need to add humans or birds. He begins at the end of summer 1890 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 was sold for $ 110M from a lower estimate of $ 55M by Sotheby's on May 14, 2019, lot 8. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
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 W1290 Meule
2016 SOLD for $ 81M by Christie's
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 pictured at sunset, was sold for $ 12M by Sotheby's on May 11 1999 and for $ 81M by Christie's on November 16, 2016, lot 9 B. Please watch the video shared by Christie's. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
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.
2022 SOLD for $ 76M by Christie's
Le Parlement - soleil couchant, numbered 1603 by Wildenstein, was sold for $ 40.5M by Christie's on May 11, 2015, 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 successful. Despite the clouds, the sun plays behind the high tower and the soft pink shades apply to the edges of the clouds and to the reflections in the river.
The Wildenstein 1604, with the same title and subtitle, was dated 1903 by the artist. Both were included in the 1904 exhibition of Monet's Vues de la Tamise à Londres at the Galerie Durand-Ruel.
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.
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.
2015 SOLD for $ 54M by Sotheby's
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.
In 1904 Claude Monet is seduced by his own work, not as an artist but as a gardener. He buys four other hybrids to Latour-Marliac. Water lilies are now invading his pond at Giverny, floating in a cohort, bringing in conjunction with the reflections a vision of the surface of the water. Their perfectly flat surface is unprecedented as an artistic theme and their exquisite colors match the Art Nouveau sensitivity of the time.
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 £ 18.5M 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 figures of 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, 2015, Sotheby's sold for $ 54M from a lower estimate of $ 30M an oil on canvas 81 x 100 cm, lot 30 estimated. 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.
2022 SOLD for $ 56M by Christie's
On May 12, 2022, Christie's sold for $ 56M from a lower estimate of $ 35M a 94 x 89 cm oil on canvas painted in 1907 in pastel like hues, lot 12C. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Between the groups of floating flowers, the mirror image of the trees and sky at the surface of the water provides another pre-abstract element. The wide open blossoms had been captured in the morning or early afternoon.
This opus was included in the seminal exhibition of 48 Nymphéas by Durand-Ruel in 1909.
Its nearly square format certainly predates the bold transition to vertical format in the same year, which would be a nonsense if the painting were a mere scenery. A vertical oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm was sold for $ 27M by Christie's on May 6, 2014.
1908 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.
1914-1917 Nymphéas en Fleur
2018 SOLD for $ 85M including premium
His focus is also changing. Controlling the effects of the surface of water, he scatters the leaves. The horizon and the shore are pushed out of field, which facilitates the adoption of a square format. The perspective is replaced by the flexible figures formed by the flotilla of plants. The clear water reflects the tall trees. The main theme is not the pool but the color.
Unlike previous series, Monet is managing to bring this theme to a close. As he progresses, he removes the paintings that no longer suit him. It is probably for this reason that he is so reluctant to leave his garden for his long stay in Venice, from October 1908.
Back from Venice, he does not retrieve his obsession. Durand-Ruel can finally exhibit the Nymphéas, from May 6 to June 5, 1909. This set of 48 paintings offers the complete vision of the artist for this theme.
On November 5, 2015, Sotheby's sold for $ 34M an undated oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm, lot 22. Its focusing on the plants in subtle pastel tones is typical of the later 1908 Nymphéas.
In 1912, aged 71, Monet suddenly loses the vision in his right eye blinded by cataract. This illness could have been a disaster for his career as an artist, and for his passion to show in his paintings the transparent surface of the water.
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.
In that year he restarts his theme of Nymphéas on larger formats while observing its decorative effect. He redesigns his workshop in the following year to paint entirely indoors his largest canvases which he devotes to enlargements of small details. A group of giant iris at water's edge 200 x 100 cm was sold for £ 10.8M by Christie's on June 23, 2015.
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.
On May 8, 2018, Christie's sold for $ 85M Nymphéas en fleur, oil on canvas 140 x 180 cm painted in his signature style of 1914-1917, lot 10.
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 Le Bassin aux Nymphéas W1897
2021 SOLD for $ 70M by Sotheby's
This piece is an oil of canvas 100 x 200 cm, a panoramic format used by Monet in the middle preparation phase of Les Grandes Décorations, from 1917 to 1919, after he completed a barn-like studio for the specific purpose of doubling the size of his pictures.
In conjunction with the complete removal of both shore and horizon, the large size of the flowers indeed brings the impression of a very close view of the pond. This immersion is enhanced by the reflections of green trees and blue sky in the interstices between the groups of floating plants.
The emotion and the presence are brought by the arrangement of the increasingly vibrant colors while the topographic depiction becomes unnecessary. This opus had probably been prepared at the end of the 1917-1919 period. It is indeed a forerunner of the trend to abstraction of the next phase of Monet's career.
1919 Le Bassin aux Nymphéas W1898
2023 SOLD for $ 74M by Christie's
Im November kommt in New York ein nie ausgestelltes Meisterwerk Claude Monets zum ersten Mal unter den Hammer.— Barnebys.de (@Barnebysde) October 13, 2023