Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), Alice Hoschedé au jardin (detail). Signed Claude Monet and dated 81 (lower right). Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 25 1/2 in.; 81 by 65 cm. Painted in 1881. Estimate $25/35 million. Photo Sotheby’s
NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s will present three remarkable paintings by Claude Monet from an important American collection in its Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York on 4 November 2014. Created in the 1880s and ‘90s, the works trace the evolution of Monet’s style as he challenged the limits of High Impressionism and experimented with an approach that would culminate in the Series Paintings of his later years. The group is led by Alice Hoschedé au jardin from 1881, which the artist personally selected as his standout work from that year (estimate $25/35 million*). The three canvases will be shown in Hong Kong on 24 & 25 October before going on view at Sotheby’s New York headquarters beginning 31 October.
Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist & Modern Art Department, commented: ‘‘Claude Monet is an artist of truly global appeal — each new generation of collectors rediscovers and reinterprets this great master. We are pleased to offer three paintings of superb condition in our November sale, which together illustrate a fascinating moment in the artist’s career as he pushed the boundaries of Impressionist painting. The result was a more structured and colorful style, in which we witness the beginning of Abstract Expressionism and other influential movements in 20th century art. The works are appearing at auction for the first time in decades, and we look forward to presenting them to collectors this autumn.’’
Monet painted Alice Hoschedé au jardin in 1881 as a new chapter of his life was unfolding. Seated among the flowers is Alice Hoschedé, the artist’s 37-year-old lover and the wife of his close friend and patron Ernst Hoschedé. The composition is lavished with all of the hallmarks of a great Impressionist composition, with its vivid color palette, intermingling of the natural elements and interplay of light and shadow.
Monet himself selected Alice Hoschedé au jardin for exhibition in 1889. At the Monet Rodin show that debuted at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, Monet selected one painting for each year of his career between 1864 and 1884, in addition to several more recent works – he chose the present painting to represent his work of 1881. The canvas entered the collection of Catholina Lambert of Patterson, New Jersey in 1891, making it one of the earliest Impressionist pictures to arrive in the United States.
Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), Alice Hoschedé au jardin. Signed Claude Monet and dated 81 (lower right). Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 25 1/2 in.; 81 by 65 cm. Painted in 1881. Estimate $25/35 million. Photo Sotheby’s
PROVENANCE: Galerie Durand- Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist)
Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York (acquired from the above)
Catholina Lambert, Paterson, New Jersey (acquired from the above on December 24, 1890)
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above on April 26, 1904)
Hugo Reisinger, New York (acquired from the above on January 26, 1907)
Mrs. Charles Greenough, New York (inherited from the above 1924)
Jacques Seligmann & Co., New York
Georges Lurcy, New York
Estate of Georges Lurcy, New York (sale: Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, November 7, 1957, lot 32)
C. Douglas Dillon, New York (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby’s, New York May 9, 1989, lot 18)
Seibu Department Store, Tokyo (acquired at the above sale)
Acquavella Contemporary Art, Inc., New York (acquired from the above)
Acquired from the above in 2000
EXHIBITED: Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Monet-Rodin, 1889, no. 52
New York, Union League Club, Monet, 1891, no. 71
Boston, Copley Hall, Monet-Rodin, 1905, no. 76
Boston, Walter Kimball Gallery, Plein-air Art, 1905
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Monet, 1907, no. 5
New York, Fearson Gallery, French Painters of the 19th Century, 1924, no. 3
New York, Wildenstein & Co., One Hundred Years of Impressionism, 1970, no. 101
LITERATURE: P.H. « Exposition de Monet, » L‘Art dans les deux Mondes, Paris, February 28, 1891, p. 173
International Studio, September 1909, illustrated pl. LVIII
Gustave Geoffroy, Claude Monet, sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre, Paris, 1922, p. 188
Louis Vauxcelles, « Claude Monet« , L’Amour de l’Art, Paris, August 1922, p. 235
Maurice Malingue, Claude Monet, Monaco, 1943, pp. 97, 147, illustrated
Oskar Reutersward, Monet, Stockholm, 1948, p. 134, illustrated p. 138
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Lausanne & Paris, 1975, no. 680, illustrated p. 404
Claude Monet-Auguste Rodin, Centenaire de l’exposition de 1889 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 1989, no. 52, illustrated p. 82
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. V, Paris, 1991, p. 36
Virginia Spate, Claude Monet, Life and Work, London, 1992, p. 144
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Cologne, 1996, no. 680, illustrated p. 256
Notes: Monet’s magnificent depiction of his garden at Vétheuil exemplifies the visual splendor of Impressionism at its height. Monet painted this work in 1881 as a new chapter of his life was unfolding, and this picture expresses the exuberance and renewed passion of the artist during this important period. Seated among the flowers is Alice Hoschedé, the artist’s thirty-seven year old lover and the wife of his close friend and patron Ernst Hoschedé. The composition is lavished with all of the hallmarks of a great Impressionist composition, with its vivid color palette, intermingling of the natural elements and interplay of light and shadow. Depicted in a luminous white dress similar to that worn by his late wife Camille in an earlier composition, Alice fingers her needlework in the shade of a tree’s arching bow with Seine river off in the distance. Monet boasted that his pictures of this period were all painted outdoors, and we can clearly imagine him seated at his easel and relishing in this vision of the resplendent Alice, gleaming in sunshine and surrounded by roses.
Claude Monet, Garden at Sainte-Adresse, 1867, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Alice Hoschedé au jardin dates from a crucial turning point in Monet’s relationship with Alice, shortly before their love affair was revealed to her husband. The Monet and Hoschedé families had shared a house in Vétheuil following Ernst’s bankruptcy in 1877, relying upon each other during hard times and ultimately forming a close bond. Following the death of Monet’s wife Camille in 1879, Alice assumed the maternal role in the dual household, which soon blossomed into an affair with the grieving artist. The author Sue Roe describes the nature of this relationship and the turn it took in 1881, soon after Monet completed the present work: « The circumstances of [Alice’s] move to Vétheuil, ostensibly as a loyal friend, nursing Camille and taking care of Monet’s two little boys, had been ambiguous. But — as it had finally dawned on even Hoschedé himself — the decision to move in with Monet as his lover, especially as a married woman and a devout Catholic, was another matter, constituting flagrant desertion of her husband » (Sue Roe, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, New York, 2006, p. 231). By the end of that year Alice would leave her husband permanantly for Monet, moving with him to Poissy and later to Giverny. The couple married in 1892 following Ernst’s death and remained together until Alice’s in 1911.
Claude Monet, Camille lisant, 1872, The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore
The present work is the more detailed of two depictions that Monet painted of Alice in the garden in 1881. The pendant for this composition (W. 680) was included in the historic seventh Impressionist show in 1882 in Paris, which would be Monet’s final engagement with the original group of Impressionist artists. For the occassion he selected thirty-five works that attracted much critical praise, including the recognition of the critic Armand Silvestre as being « the most exquisite of the Impressionists » and « one of the true contemporary poets of the things of nature. » The present work made its public debut in 1889 on the occasion of a grand retrospective of the the artist’s painting and Rodin’s sculpture at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris. The artist had been asked to select works that defined each of the years of his production, and he chose the present composition as an encapsulation of 1881.
Claude Monet, The Walk, Woman with a Parasol, 1875, National Gallery of Art, Washington
In her monograph of the artist, Virginia Spate provides the following analysis of this picture: « In painting of the garden at Vétheuil, he insisted upon the presence of the fence, whose emphatic rail and palings sharply mark off the world of the domestic garden from that which lies beyong, whereas in most earlier paintings of the subject, the woman was enclosed by foliage, and Monet rarely showed the prosaic boundaries of the gardern. The Terrace at Sainte-Adresse was an exception, in that in this work Monet fenced in the figures, creating a secure space from which they survey their world, whereas Alice Hoschedé is shown completely absourbed within the garden » (V. Spate, op. cit., p. 144).
Catholina Lambert’s Grand Art Hall at Belle Vista, Paterson, New Jersey. The present work hangs at the top, immediately to the left of the large horizontal painting in the center of the balustrade.
The Vétheuil compositions, including the present canvas, show Monet at his most ambitious, revealing his devotion to his craft. These were the years that gave rise to his riveting depictions of the ice-floes on the Seine, along with some of his most compositionally sophisticated landscapes of the river valley. He moved to this area of the Seine valley from Argenteuil in 1878, and the following five years he spent there with his family were to be some of the most tumultuous of his life. Painting offered a respite during this era, and those canvases he produced during this period celebrate the splendor of the French countryside. These pictures would ultimately be sold by Paul Durand-Ruel at the end of 1881, elevating the artist into a more secure financial position and launching him into yet another phase of his artistic development.
We know that Durand-Ruel acquired this picture from Monet at the end of 1881 and presumably sent it to his gallery in New York, as it was eventually sold to Catholina Lambert, the British-born silk manufacturer and New Jersey resident. Lambert, who was the owner of record when this picture was exhibited at the landmark Union League Club exhibition of Monet’s work, continually revised his collection and owned approximately twenty-five works by Monet which he purchased directly from Durand-Ruel. The present work entered his collection in 1891 and can be seen in a photograph of the Grand Art Hall at his Belle Vista Castle in Paterson, New Jersey in 1896. Nearly a decade later it entered the collection of Hugo Reisinger (1856-1914), the German born, New York-based merchant who was married to Edmee Busch (1871-1955), an heir of the Anheuser-Busch brewery dynasty based in St. Louis. Reisinger’s weath and the core of his extensive collection of modern German art eventually formed the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University. Upon his death, the picture remained with his family, who included his son Walter F. Reisinger and his wife Edmee, who would later remarry Major Charles Greenough in 1920.
The picture later came into the possession of Georges Lurcy (1891-1953), the prominent collector of Impressionist and Modern Art. While an executive at the Rothschild bank in France, Lurcy (born Georges Lévy) rose quickly to the top of his profession and his genius as in investor in hydroplanes made him a large fortune during World War I. Lurcy amassed an astounding treasure trove of paintings by the great masters of late 19th and early 20th century art while living in France in the 1930s with his young American wife, Alice Snow Barbee. Prior to leaving France for the United States in 1940, he briefly served as a resistance fighter and gave his château at Meslay le Vidame to the town’s mayor to be converted into a sanitarium. Changing his name from Lévy to Lurcy to protect his family at the outbreak of war, Lurcy and his wife Alice Snow Barbee brought their exceptional collection to the United States, establishing homes on Fifth Avenue in New York and at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Georges enrolled in classes at the University. Students at the time remembered him for his supreme generosity and his approachable genius. Following Lurcy’s death in 1953, this work was sold at a landmark auction at Parke Bernet Galleries in New York, when it was purchased by C. Douglas Dillon (1909-2003), the American diplomat, politian and trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Monet’s Sous les Peupliers is among the finest evocations of the French countryside that the artist painted in the 1880s. Its rich surface exemplifies the technical virtuosity Monet had achieved by the end of the decade. The idyllic agrarian subject matter of this work encapsulates the central focus of Monet’s oeuvre towards the end of the 19th century: he divorced himself from painting urban scenes and the banlieue of Paris, and devoted himself fully to his beloved countryside, with it majestic avenues of poplar trees, canals and wheat fields.
Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), Sous les Peupliers. Signed Claude Monet and dated 87 (lower left). Oil on canvas, 28 ¾ by 36 ¼ in., 73 by 92 cm. Painted in 1887. Estimate $12/18 million. Photo:Sotheby’s
PROVENANCE: Bertha & Potter Palmer, Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago (acquired as a gift from the above in 1922 and sold: Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc., New York, March 2, 1944, lot 59)
Thomas J. Watson, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection, Switzerland
J. Barry Donahue Fine Arts, Inc., Litchfield
Acquired from the above in 1998
EXHIBITED: (possibly) Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Monet-Rodin, 1899, no. 144
Tokyo, Wildenstein Gallery, La Joie de vivre au tournant du siecle, 1991, no. 5, illustrated in color in the catalogue
LITERATURE: The Art Institute of Chicago, ed., Handbook of Paintings and Drawings,Chicago, 1922, no. 834, p. 68
M.C., « Monet in the Art Institute, » Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, XIX, no. 2, Chicago, February 1925, p. 19
Oscar Reuterswärd, Monet, En konstnärshistorik, Stockholm, 1948, illustrated p. 280
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Lausanne & Paris, 1979, no. 1136, illustrated p. 93
R.T. Dunn, The Monet-Rodin Exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1889 (Ph.D. dissertation), Northwestern University, Chicago, 1978, no. 144, pp. 80 & 250
Claude Monet-Auguste Rodin, Centenaire de l’exposition de 1889 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 1989, no. 144, illustrated p. 99
Marianne Alphant, Claude Monet, Une vie dans le paysage, Paris, 1993, illustrated p. 372
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Cologne, 1996, no. 1136, illustrated in color p. 429
Notes: Monet’s Sous les Peupliers is amongst the finest evocations of the French countryside the artist committed to canvas during the 1880s. Its extraordinarily rich surface, composed using spontaneous brushwork and areas of thickly applied paint, exemplifies the technical virtuosity Monet had achieved by the end of the decade. The idyllic agrarian subject matter of this work encapsulates the central focus of Monet’s œuvre towards the end of the 19th Century; he divorced himself from painting urban scenes and the banlieue of Paris and devoted himself fully to his beloved countryside, with it majestic avenues of poplar trees, canals and wheat fields.
Claude Monet, Poplars (Banks of the Epte), 1891, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Painted in 1887, the present work was executed during a period of respite from extensive travelling. The previous year Monet undertook painting campaigns to Holland and Brittany, but had also finally established a permanent studio at Giverny, which he had rented since 1883. The surrounding fields and meadows of the district became the focus of much of his output whilst at home and, unusually, contain a number of figures identifiable as members of his extended family. The idyllic rural compositions Monet executed in the Eure offer a vision of pastoral contentment; the fecundity of France and its vibrant seasons are benevolently portrayed in the Impressionist style. However, they also present a contrast to the more spectacular and unusual sights that Monet strove to paint further abroad. Paul Hayes Tucker has speculated that by travelling throughout France in the 1880s Monet was attempting to decentralise Impressionism which for the most part had been based in Paris. ‘When queried in 1880 about his defection [from the Impressionists], he asserted, ‘I am still an Impressionist and will always remain one.’ Unlike his some of his former colleagues such as Pissarro who experimented with the pointillist techniques of the Post-Impressionists, Monet staunchly maintained that belief. Indeed, he put it into practice in an unprecedented way, traveling extensively during the decade to paint some of the most spectacular and varied sites in all of France, from the black, ocean-pounded coast of Belle Isle in the Atlantic south of Brittany to the verdant shores of Antibes on the Mediterranean. The places he chose had dramatically different geological formations, weather conditions, lighting effects, and temperature ranges. They also possessed strikingly different moods, mythologies, associations, and appeals” (P. H. Tucker, Monet in the ’90s. The Series Paintings, New Haven & London, 1989, pp. 18-19).
Claude Monet, Sous les Peupliers, effet de soleil, 1887, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany
The present work is closely related to a small group of canvases painted during the summer of 1887 (W. 1131-1135). In his biography of Monet’s life, Charles Stuckey quotes Monet, stating that during July and August he worked on “figures out-of-doors the way I understand them, done like landscapes. It is an old dream that plagues me and I would love to carry it to realisation one time” (the artist quoted in Claude Monet: 1840-1926 (exhibition catalogue), The Art Institute of Chicago, 1995, p. 215). Stuckey suggests that the impetus for painting figures might have come from seeing Berthe Morisot figure studies. One of the works Monet executed, Dans le Marais de Giverny, Suzanne lisant et Blach poignant (now in the Los Angeles Museum of Art), shares the intimate, domestic scope of Morisot’s work. Whilst the present work and its counterpart,Soleil les Poupliers, effet de soleil (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart), present a panoramic view of the fields at Les Essarts with the figures as part of the landscape itself. This area in the commune of Limetz, nestled between the two branches of the river Epte (a tributary of the Seine) became a favourite painting spot and recurs throughout his work of the following decade, most notably in the Meules and Peupliers series.
Claude Monet, Effet de printemps à Giverny, 1890, oil on canvas, sold: Sotheby’s New York, May 5, 2010, lot 34, $15,202,500
The first owners of the present work were Potter and Bertha Palmer of Chicago, whose vast collection of contemporary art reflected their recently acquired fortune. Between 1891 and 1893 Mr and Mrs Potter Palmer acquired thirty-three paintings by Monet from Durand-Ruel. In The Ultimate Trophy Philip Hook wrote about this extraordinary couple: ‘Mr Potter Palmer was the richest man in Chicago. He was a property developer who built hotels […]. At home in the Palmer residence there was a vast Louis XVI salon and all sorts of glamorous accoutrements. Mrs Potter Palmer was the unchallenged queen of Chicago social life. Advised by Mary Cassatt, Mrs Potter Palmer went to visit Monet in Giverny in 1891 and bought a painting from him. Many more followed. […] The Potter Palmer collection ended up in The Art Institute of Chicago and is the main reason why that museum is so rich in Impressionism’ (P. Hook, The Ultimate Trophy: How the Impressionist Painting Conquered the World, London, 2010, p. 74-75). The present work was included in the Palmer’s generous gift to the Art Institute and remained in the museum’s possession until it was sold in 1944. Sous les Peupliers has remained in the United States ever since and is a remarkable testament to the pioneering tastes of the American collectors who supported Impressionism from its infancy.
Mrs. Potter Palmer, née Bertha Honoré, 1900
Eglise de Vernon, soleil is the crowning achievement from the artist’s series of paintings depicting the tranquil town of Vernon, with its resplendent reflection in the nearby Seine. During the spring of 1894, Monet repeatedly addressed the theme of reflection in his paintings of the Seine. Starting with a few relatively simple views of the river at Port-Villez, before moving downstream to tackle the more varied riverbanks at Vernon, Monet devoted a large proportion of his output that year to the French countryside surrounding his home at Giverny.
Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), Église de Vernon, soleil. Signed and dated ’94. Oil on canvas, 26 by 36 7/8 in., 65 by 92 cm. Painted in 1894. Estimate $7/9 million. Photo Sotheby’s
PROVENANCE: (possibly) Isaac Montaignac, Paris (circa 1895)
George N. Tyner, Holyoke, Massachusetts (sale: Waldorf-Astoria, New York, February 1, 1901, lot 70)
Durand-Ruel, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Henry T. Sloane, New York (acquired from the above on January 8, 1903)
Knoedler Gallery, New York
Alfred Schwabacher, New York (circa 1940)
Mr. & Mrs. Julian Raskin, Paris & Scarsdale (1955)
Private Collection (circa 1975)
J. Barry Donahue Fine Arts, Inc., Litchfield
Acquired from the above in 1998
EXHIBITED: Paris, Durand-Ruel, Tableaux de Claude Monet, 1895, no. 27
New York, Durand-Ruel, Claude Monet, 1902, no. 25
LITERATURE: Gustave Geffroy, Claude Monet, sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre, Paris, 1922, p. 209
Lionello Venturi, Les Archives de I’mpressionnisme, vol. I, Paris-New York, 1939, p. 359
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1979, no. 1387, illustrated p. 181
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Cologne, 1996, no. 1387, illustrated in color p. 575
Notes: Eglise de Vernon, soleil is the crowning achievement from the artist’s series of paintings depicting the tranquil town of Vernon with its resplendent reflection in the nearby Seine. During the spring of 1894 Monet repeatedly addressed the theme of reflection in paintings of the Seine. Starting with a few relatively simple views of the river at Port-Villez before moving downstream to tackle the more varied riverbanks at Vernon, Monet devoted a large proportion of his output that year to the French countryside surrounding his home at Giverny. Eglise de Vernon, soleil depicts the dramatic moment when the slanting sun hits the riverside facade of the gothic church at the center of the town. The crisp colors above the water’s edge are offset by a gentle blurring of boundaries visible in the town’s reflection.
Claude Monet, Vernon, soleil, 1894, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York
Monet first introduced ecclesiastical buildings into a few canvases painted in the 1870s and they remained a source of inspiration for many years. In 1883 he produced three paintings that depicted Notre-Dame de Vernon. These sunlit pictures captured the different aspects of the church and its position among the town above the river. The present work was produced ten years later during the peak of Monet’s project of series paintings; using a small boat he rowed out into the middle of the river and painted seven canvases that focused on capturing the ephemeral effect of mist and light rather than the architectural details (D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1996. nos. 1386-1391a).
Discussing the context surrounding Monet’s decision to paint the church at Vernon upon completion of his series of paintings of the façade of Rouen Cathedral, Virginia Spate writes: « The ‘terribly hard and arid’ labour of the Cathedrals seem to have made him react against the more mechanistic aspects of the serial method, and to seek alternative modes of consciousness in which recourse to memory made the representation of the passage of light over a motif ‘less fugitive… more ordinary… more durable.’ While completing the Cathedrals, Monet had returned to a motif he had painted when he first arrived in Giverny, the church seen across the river at Vernon. The six paintings he did of another religious building bathed in light show clearly differentiated atmospheric effects, rather than the infinite succession of ‘moments’ of the Cathedral series. Instead of thick pastes, he used delicate, evanescent hazes of colour that fuse every form into a single luminous substance which somehow suggests a light existing in time rather than a fragment of its continuity as in the Cathedrals » (V. Spate, The Colour of Time – Claude Monet, London, 1992, p. 232).
Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, Façade and Tour d’Albane (Morning effect), 1892-94, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
In an interview with a journalist Monet revealed the inspiration behind the triumphant canvases depicting churches from 1894. He stated that when he first painted the Notre-Dame de Vernon, « I discovered the curious silhouette of a church, and I undertook to paint it. It was the beginning of summer… foggy fresh mornings were followed by sudden outbursts of sunshine whose hot rays could only slowly dissolve the mist surrounding every crevice of the edifice and covering the golden stones with an ideally vaporous envelope » (quoted in Paul Hayes Tucker, Claude Monet. Life and Art, 1995, New Haven & London, p. 153). His poetic evocation of the temporal conditions that so inspired his work aptly suits the subsequent beauty of the atmospheric effects achieved in the L’Eglise de Vernon series. Paul Tucker suggests that Monet’s disregard for fact over sentiment reflected his desire to create a sense of « underlying continuity in his work. Moreover it separates the pictures from their immediate predecessors and Monet’s aspirations of the moment » (P. H. Tucker, ibid., p. 153).
Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), Le jardin de Vétheuil. Signed Claude Monet and dated 1881 (lower left). Oil on canvas, 23 1/2 by 29 1/4 in., 59.5 by 74.5 cm. Painted in 1881. Photo Sotheby’s
PROVENANCE: Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (probably acquired from the artist in April 1881)
Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin (acquired from the above in February 1901)
Hugo Stahl, Berlin
Steinreich Collection, New York
Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York (acquired by April 1945)
Mrs Robert Winthrop, New York (acquired from the above in March 1946)
Sale: Christie’s, New York, 15th May 1990, lot 10
Private Collection, Japan (by 1994)
Sale: Christie’s, New York, 12th May 1999, lot 11
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
Connaught Brown, London
Acquired from the above in 2009 by the present owner
EXHIBITED: Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir et Sisley, 1899, no. 13
Tokyo, Bridgestone Museum of Art; Nagoya, City Art Museum & Hiroshima, Museum of Art, Monet: A Retrospective, 1994, no. 32, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Treviso, Casa dei Carraresi, Monet: I luoghi della pittura, 2001-02, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Edinburgh, National Gallery & Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Impressionist Gardens, 2010-11, no. 30, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Claude Monet, 2011, no. 23, illustrated in color in the catalogue.
LITERATURE: Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1974, vol. I, no. 666, illustrated p. 401
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, mentioned p. 36
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet. Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, no. 666, illustrated in color p. 251
David Joel, Monet at Vétheuil and on the Norman Coast 1878-1883, Woodbridge, 2002, illustrated in color p. 126
Notes: Le Jardin de Vétheuil depicts Monet’s house and garden at Vétheuil, a small village situated beside the Seine, where the artist and his family lived from September 1878 until December 1881. This picturesque location had been the site of some of Monet’s most successful Impressionist landscapes of the late 1870s, and continued to fascinate him well into his later career. The natural beauty of the region was of great appeal, as was the impressive Medieval architecture that could be seen from many points in the surrounding area. Of particular interest to him were the rigid shapes of buildings, most noticeably that of the imposing 10th century church of Notre Dame de Vétheuil, juxtaposed against the patchwork of the landscape. In 1878, and again in 1901, Monet executed a number of iconic views of Vétheuil, showing the village as seen from across the river, with the fragmented reflection of the church and its environs appearing in the ripples of water.
Monet’s house and garden steps, 2002. Photograph by Dr. Tabernet
Le Jardin de Vétheuil was followed by a series of six oils Monet executed in 1881 on this subject (D. Wildenstein, nos. 680-685). The present work, however, is the only horizontal composition from this group. In some of the other versions, Monet depicted Alice Hoschedé reading in the garden, or children scattered on the stairs leading up to the house. Discussing this group of works, Virginia Spate wrote: « This was the first time he had painted the Vétheuil garden, although Taboureux who visited him in 1880 found it sufficiently remarkable to comment on his use of masses of ‘natural flowers’ […] There is no hint of the world beyond the garden; no indication that the family house is separated from the garden by the main road into Vétheuil, and despite the sensuous profusion of the flowers, every form is locked into place by the vertical axes of the house, the steps and the path which leads to the space in which the painter must have stood » (V. Spate, The Colour of Time: Claude Monet, London, 1992, pp. 144 & 148).
Claude Monet, Monet’s Garden at Vétheuil, 1880, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
The present work was probably executed during the spring of 1881 and its bright, lively palette of yellow, blue and green tones beautifully renders the atmosphere of a bright sunny day. The composition is dominated by the lavishly painted lawns and flowerbeds, framed by the large tree to the left. The path leads the viewer’s eye from the bottom right corner towards the center of the canvas, and up the steep steps towards Monet’s house. In his landscapes painted at this time, Monet often experimented with the high horizon line, executing a number of paintings dominated by wild vegetation, with only a small portion of the canvas opening up to the landscape in the distance. In the present work, he eliminated the sky altogether, choosing instead to focus on the lushness of nature, and compositionally this represented a drastic shift from the open expanses of water and sky of the landscapes painted from his bateau atelier.
Claude Monet, Giverny, 1910
Christoph Becker wrote about Monet’s garden paintings of 1881: « That year Monet’s garden also flourished magnificently. Anyone going to the garden had to cross the road and go through a gate at the top of a flight of stone steps leading down to a grassy area. On either side of the steps there were several rows of sunflowers which had shot up in June. On the lower steps and on the grass were the already familiar six large, blue-patterned plant-pots, densely planted with red gladioli […] The advantage of having one’s own garden was that a motif could be arranged for the purpose of painting, in a carefully planned natural setting, and right by where the artist lived. When a journalist asked if he might enter Monet’s studio in Vétheuil, Monet was immediately indignant: ‘My studio! But I’ve never had one, and I don’t understand how anyone could shut themselves into a room »‘ (C. Becker, Monet’s Garden (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthaus, Zurich, 2004-05, p. 39). Indeed, the present work is a superb example of Monet’s paintings executed en plein air, showing his delight at depicting nature in all its splendor.