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 by Sotheby'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.