Pond by Monet in Giverny
Monet is an amateur but careful and skilled horticulturist. Without having his original preference, the water lilies impose themselves as his most prolific theme, up to obsession. Unlike the ivy on the wall, they will not cover the entire available surface. Spreading their leaves flush with water, they materialize in perspective the real surface of the pond.
Monet created his water garden in Giverny for his pleasure and for exercising his passion of gardening. The water lilies in various colors gradually occupy the surface of the pond. The artist has found his master : nature itself, quite simply.
Around 1904, these nymphéas became a favorite theme in Monet's art. Nothing escapes him in the daily cycle from the opening to the closing of the blossom, or in the reaction of the plant to light and to weather conditions. He still uses the process that was so successful to him in previous decades, by installing several easels and working from canvas to canvas depending on hour and weather.
From 1904 to 1908, Monet produced his first series of Nymphéas. With more than 60 paintings which he wants all different from one another, the artist expresses the most subtle variations of color and light, changing the distance and population of the flowers, the importance of the reflections from the trees and the expressive power of color.
The horizon disappears, the details become abstract but the botanical accuracy remains. An early example in this new figurative style, dated 1904, 81 x 100 cm, was sold for £ 18.5M by Sotheby's on 19 June 2007, lot 7.
The artist later recognized that he "hardly had any other subject since that moment".
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.
In 1905, the water lilies are 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
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.
An oil on canvas 90 x 100 cmwas sold for $ 21M by Christie's on May 8, 2000, lot 21, and for £ 32M by Sotheby's on June 23, 2014, lot 17. 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.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's :
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 Tirelessly painting the Nympheas
2015 SOLD for $ 34M including premium
Monet's 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.
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
Preparation for Les Grandes Décorations
2018 SOLD for $ 32M by Christie's
The artist is aging and suffering from cataract. This last theme is once again the nymphéas of his water garden which since 1904 satisfy his passion for gardening while being close to his workshop.
When he finished the project a few months before he died in 1926, Les Grandes Décorations consisted of eight compositions using 22 canvases in a unique height of 2 m for a total length of 90 m.
During the war years, the artist made about 60 paintings of his water lilies for trying his theme on large formats. The global design is gradually built. It then becomes necessary to test the panoramic formats. This new phase is made more challenging by his desire to concentrate the image on flowers and on reflections while eliminating the edges of the pond and the horizon.
In 1918 Monet buys the canvases necessary for this new series. He executes 14 paintings 100 x 200 cm and 5 paintings 130 x 200 cm over a short period ending in the following year. One of them is dated 1917 which is the year of the conception of this phase.
A Bassin aux Nymphéas 100 x 200 cm dated 1919 was sold for £ 41M including premium by Christie's on June 24, 2008. A few other canvases have been cut. Dated in the same year, a 100 x 100 cm fragment whose other half is in a museum was sold for $ 27M including premium by Christie's on May 12, 2016.
On November 11 in New York, Christie's sells an undated Bassin aux Nymphéas 100 x 200 cm, lot 32 A estimated $ 30M. This example offers a very pleasant homogeneity of tone between the blue reflections of the sky and the green reflections of the big trees. The flowers are rare.
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.
2008 SOLD for £ 41M by Christie's
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.
1918 Coin du Bassin
2021 SOLD for $ 51M by Sotheby's
His most spectacular studies were for the panoramic formats. He also selected a few corners in his garden for capturing in independent series the effects of light beside the shadows of a deep foliage.
These oil studies have sometimes been considered as precursors to the abstract expressionism. Indeed Monet was working on the specific beauty of dark hues half a century before Rothko prepared the Rothko Chapel.
Saule pleureur is a series of ten paintings on a theme aside from the pond, within the foliage of a weeping willow. An oil on canvas 130 x 110 cm was sold for £ 8.9M by Christie's on June 29, 2017, lot 14.
Le Pont Japonais is a series of 24 paintings made between 1918 and 1924. An undated example, oil on canvas 73 x 100 cm, was sold for $ 12.8M by Christie's on May 13, 2019, lot 36A. Another one, also undated, was sold for $ 15.8M by Sotheby's on May 7, 2014.
His new vertical studies display some detail in the garden, including the float of the waterlilies.
A Coin du bassin aux nymphéas, oil on canvas 130 x 89 cm, was sold for $ 51M by Sotheby's on November 16, 2021, lot 26. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
This painting keeps intact its original thick impasto used by Monet for new luminosity effects, in a mingling of many colors that anticipates Pollock.
This opus was dated 1918 by the artist. It was part of a few paintings released by Monet to the market in January 1919, split between Durand-Ruel and Bernheim-Jeune. This one was shared by both dealers.
Viewed from a vantage point, an undated Coin du bassin aux nymphéas, oil on canvas 130 x 89 cm, was sold for $ 22M from a lower estimate of $ 15M by Christie's on May 13, 2019, lot 35A.
The aging Monet was certainly anxious when he made this specific painting. The incandescent light behind the trees of his own garden is otherworldly. He kept this highly personal work in his studio until his death.