(possibly) Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist)
Charles Guasco, Paris (sold: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 11, 1900, lot 56)
Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
Kunsthalle, Bremen (on deposit from the above in January 17, 1914, seized by the German government, and sold to an unknown entity at the end of the First World War. Durand-Ruel was financially compensated by the German government at a later date.)
Müller Family (H.W. Gross, H. Linz and A. Pfan), Baden (by 1960)
Private Collection, United States (before 1979)
Private Collection, Switzerland (sold: Sotheby's, London, June 27, 1995, lot 12)
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired at the above sale)
Sam Porter Fine Arts, Inc.
Acquired from the above on February 20, 1996
(possibly) Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Monet-Rodin, 1889, no. 73
Venice, Ve Esposizione Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte, 1903
London, Grafton Galleries, Pictures by Boudin, Manet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Morisot, Sisley, 1905, no. 111
Weimar, Grossherzogliches Museum, Monet, 1905, no. 17
Bremen, Kunsthalle, Internationale Kunstausstellung, 1906, no. 243
Krefeld, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Französische Moderne Kunst, 1907, no. 108
Buenos Aires, Exposition Internationale, 1910, no. 223
Ghent, Beaux-Arts, Exposition Internationale, 1913
Bremen, Kunsthalle, Internationale Ausstellung, 1914, no. 248
Dresden, Galerie Arnold, Französische Malerei des 19. Jahrhunderts, 1914, no. 74 (titled Anlicht der Seine bei Giverny)
Aarau, Kunstverein, Jubiläums-Ausstellung aus Aargauischem Privatbesitz, No. I: von den Impressionisten bis zur Gegenwart, 1960, no. 266
Wynford Dewhurst, Impressionist Paintings, London, 1904, illustrated p. 39
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Lausanne and Paris, 1979, no. 1004, illutrated p. 167
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Cologne, 1996, no. 1004, illustrated p. 379
Monet settled in Giverny towards the end of April 1883 and would stay in this region of the remainder of his life (see figs. 1 and 2). Amongst his earliest motifs in the area were views of Port-Villez, a small village on the right bank of the Seine just opposite Giverny, of which he painted three versions shortly after his arrival in the region (Wildenstein, nos. 834-836). Writing about this series, Daniel Wildenstein commented: “Monet went to live in Giverny in late April, 1883. As often happened when he arrived in a new place – Vétheuil was an extreme case -, he seems to have hesitated to paint motifs which were close to where he was living. In order to paint the Seine at Port-Villez […], he would have had to travel about a kilometer before reaching a point on the river close to the junction with the main branch of the Epte” (D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1996, vol. II, p. 310).
In the summer of 1885, Monet returned to the theme and painted the present picture, together with a nearly identical second version now in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne (Wildenstein, no. 1005, see fig. 3). In these paintings, small islands dot the river and the Coteau du Gibet (Gibbet Hill) rises in the distance. Monet frequently painted scenes of trees beside water and returned again and again to the same stretches of the Seine and its tributaries, such as the Epte. Frederick Hartt writes: "As early as 1873 Monet had set up a floating studio in a boat on the Seine, an idea he borrowed from the Barbizon painter Charles-François Daubigny. If to Corot the art of painting consisted in knowing where to sit down, to Monet it lay in judging where to drop anchor. The world passing before his eyes at any one spot formed a continuous stream of experience, from which he singled out moments, recorded in series" (Frederick Hartt, Art: A History of Painting. Sculpture. Architecture, London, 1977, vol. II, p. 361).
The composition of Bords de la Seine à Port-Villez is reminiscent of Monet’s depictions of Vétheuil, in which the water occupies the lower third of the canvas, the land is visible in the middle, and the sky takes up the upper part of the composition. Executed at the height of Monet’s Impressionism, the present work exemplifies the artist’s life-long commitment to painting en plein air, exploring the effects of weather conditions and light at different times of the day on the surrounding landscape. The present work offers a vibrant contrast between the predominantly horizontal brushstrokes of the water and quick, diagonal dabs used for the hill and the sky, creating a dynamic composition and evoking the rich atmosphere of a summer day.
“I never had a studio, and I don’t understand shutting oneself away in a room” Monet once said (quoted in John House, Monet: Nature into Art, New Haven, 1986, p. 140). He found no better location than Giverny and its surroundings to satisfy his methods than the numerous stretches of open water – ponds, rivers and oceans – that preoccupied him throughout his career (see fig. 4). This focus on painting directly from nature, without the mediating effect of first making on-the-spot drawings then returning to his studio to work up the sketches and complete the finished oil, allows a wonderful freshness of impact. The vibrancy of palette and the vigor of brushstroke used by Monet allow him to capture here the rippling reflections in the water of the hills, the grassy banks of the river and the gnarled trees, with a great immediacy that epitomizes the Impressionist desire to render the fleeting effects of light on nature.
Fig. 1, Claude Monet at Giverny in 1887
Fig. 2, Monet's house and garden at Giverny in the late 1880s, early 1890s.
Fig. 3, Claude Monet, Bords de la Seine à Port-Villez, 1885, oil on canvas, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne
Fig. 4, Claude Monet, Bras de Seine à Giverny, 1885, oil on canvas, Musée Marmottan, Paris
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