PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above in 1919 and until at least 1949)
Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired circa 1970)
Baron Chollet, Switzerland (by descent from the above)
Thomas Gibson, London (possibly on consignment)
Acquired from the above by the present owner on March 12, 1991
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Recently Imported Work by Monet, 1919, no. 13
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Waterlilies by Claude Monet, 1924, no. 8
Montclair, Montclair Art Museum, Garden Pictures, 1924
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings by the Master Impressionists, 1929, no. 8
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Claude Monet, 1931, no. 17
Chicago, The Art Club of Chicago, Paintings by Claude Monet in Retrospect 1868-1913, 1933, no. 16
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Le Jardin de Claude Monet, 1941, no. 7
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Claude Monet, 1970, lot 49
William C. Seitz, Claude Monet, New York, 1960, illustrated p. 43
Claude Monet (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1970, no. 49
Denis Rouart, Jean-Dominique Rey & Robert Maillard, Nymphéas ou les miroirs du temps, Paris, 1972, illustrated p. 166
Claire Joyes, Claude Monet: Life at Giverny, London, 1985
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Lausanne & Paris, 1985, no. 1781, illustrated p. 249, mentioned in letter nos. 2297, 2298, 2302 & 2305
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Cologne, 1996, no. 1781, illustrated p. 837
Monet purchased his home and surrounding gardens in 1890 and took an active role in developing them over the subsequent decades. Paul Hayes Tucker explains, "That casual performance by Monet took place by the edge of his famous water-lily pond, a site that appears so natural in photographs and paintings but was actually designed by him and built beginning in 1893. He enlarged it several times during the next seventeen years, and he and his gardeners planted all the trees, bushes, flowers, and reeds that lined its sculpted banks. To cross the lily pond, he had a Japanese-style bridge constructed, which he eventually trellised for wisteria. Monet was likewise the creator of his equally famous flower garden, which replaced a kitchen garden just outside the door to his house. With its meticulously arranged beds, laid out in strict geometric rows and filled with flowers whose color and blooming periods were artfully coordinated, the flower garden evokes a rational Western model, in clear contrast to the more mysterious and evocative Eastern orientation of the water garden" (Paul Hayes Tucker, Claude Monet, Late Work (exhibition catalogue), Gagosian Gallery, 2010, p. 22).
By 1909, Monet's paintings of his Giverny garden were creating a sensation among patrons and critics. In 1909, Charles Morice wrote in response to an exhibition of recent works at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris: "These 'Paysages d'eau,' five years of studies at the edge of the same pond, miraculously synthesize all the accomplishments of Impressionism, all its errors, all its merits. One shouldn't resist this enchantment, but one must also take it into account. The omnipotence of the artist is not in question: he has done exactly what he proposed to do. But, if Delacroix had good reason to define painting as 'the art of producing illusion in the mind of the spectator by way of his eyes,' could one say that the painting of Mr. Monet accords with the terms of this definition? This painting does not aim at our mind; it stops at our eyes. This splendidly and exclusively physical art returns to the elements of matter. It has the status of a necessary reaction and bears witness always to marvelous personal gifts" (Charles Morice, "Modern Art," Mercure de France, July 16, 1909, trans. in Claude Monet: Late Work (exhibition catalogue), Gagosian Gallery, 2010, p. 180).
Monet often approached his subjects at Giverny in series, a method that he had developed in his high Impressionist works and perfected in his famous series paintings of the early 1890s, such as those of haystacks, poplar trees and the facade of Rouen cathedral. Monet fascinated over the varying effects of seasonal light upon these subjects. In Giverny, subjects such as the Japanese footbridge or, as in the present work, a garden arch provided the artist with an anchor for a given series. Monet thus paid exacting attention to the details of the garden, including maintaining the pond and plants in a perfect state for painting. Elizabeth Murray writes "The water gardener would row out in the pond in a small green flat-bottomed boat to clean the entire surface. Any moss, algae, or water grasses which grew from the bottom had to be pulled out. Monet insisted on clarity. Next the gardener would inspect the water lilies themselves. Any yellow leaves or spent blossoms were removed. If the plants had become dusty from vehicles passing by on the Chemin du Roy, the dirt road nearby, the gardener would take a bucket of water and rinse off the leaves and flowers, ensuring that the true colors and beauty would shine forth" (E. Murray, 'Monet as a Garden Artist,' Monet, Late Paintings of Giverny from the Musée Marmottan, New Orleans, 1995, p. 53).
In 1908 Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier visited Monet at Giverny and gave a thoughtful description of Monet’s working methods for the review Fermes et Châteaux: "In this mass of intertwined verdure and foliage… the lilies spread their round leaves and dot the water with a thousand red, pink, yellow and white flowers… The Master often comes here, where the bank of the pond is bordered with thick clumps of irises. His swift, short strokes place brushloads of luminous color as he moves from one place to another, according to the hour… The canvas he visited this morning at dawn is not the same as the canvas we find him working on in the afternoon. In the morning, he records the blossoming of the flowers, and then, once they begin to close, he returns to the charms of the water itself and its shifting reflections, the dark water that trembles beneath the somnolent leaves of the water-lilies" (quoted in Daniel Wildenstein, Monet or The Triumph of Impressionism, Cologne, 2003, p. 384). The unending variety of forms and tones that the ponds provided allowed Monet to work consistently on a number of canvases at the same time. With large scale and a wide-ranged palette, Bassin aux nymphéas, les rosiers is a unique and grand statement of adoration for this artist's haven.
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