- Claude Monet
- Église de Vernon, soleil
- Signed and dated '94
- Oil on canvas
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
New York, Durand-Ruel, Claude Monet, 1902, no. 25
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
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).
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).