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.
SOLD for £ 25M including premium