Durand-Ruel Family Collection (from 1928 until at least 1941)
Sam Salz, New York
Dr Fritz Nathan, Zurich (acquired by 1953)
By descent from the above to the present owner
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris & Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, no. 235, listed p. 27
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet. Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, no. 235, illustrated p. 103
Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven & London, 1982, p. 24
Painted in 1872, the present work depicts a view of Argenteuil across the river Seine, with the hills of Cormeilles and Sannois visible in the distance. Monet moved to Argenteuil, a suburb near Paris, in 1871, and lived there for the following six years. Inspired by the picturesque scenery of the Seine that coexisted harmoniously with such emblems of modern life as smokestacks, boaters and well-dressed strollers, he painted a number of views of the region. In the 1870s, Argenteuil was booming with signs of modernisation and industrialisation, and was one of the fastest growing regions in the vicinity of Paris. With the advance of the steamboat and railway, the Argenteuil path along the Seine became a popular promenade, rather than a commercial route it had been in the past. Normally the area depicted in this work would have been busy with the bateaux lavoirs and the promenade populated with people strolling along the river.
Argenteuil provided Monet with a wide range of views to paint, from its winding streets to a more sweeping view of the town across the river, as in the present composition. Sailing boats and the old bridge under restoration were also subjects of a number of oils, as were the surrounding villages, such as the nearby Carrières-Saint-Denis, a village now known as Carrières-sur-Seine (fig. 1). At the time Monet painted Vue d’Argenteuil, the area was populated by buildings reflecting rapid industrialisation, including a saw mill, a tannery and an iron factory. Monet, however, turned his attention to the residential houses, carefully selecting his viewpoint in order to edit out the common commercial traffic on the Seine and the factories with their smokestacks. In doing so, Monet wished to capture the tranquil atmosphere that had characterised the area, glorifying its idyllic, unspoilt past rather than its bustling, modernised present.
The combination of the river Seine, the picturesque town and the hills behind it provided a perfect backdrop for Monet to explore and portray the interaction of light and water in various seasons and times of day. ‘Monet’s initial attraction to Argenteuil is evident not only in the number of paintings from the first year but also in the fact that he chose sites and subjects that he would never paint again. One of these was the hills of Sannois. Part of a range that began at Saint-Denis and continued north to Pontoise, the hills rose up behind the town, giving it a protective barrier and a picturesque backdrop. […] As early as 1863 the Journal d’Argenteuil could declare, “The hills of Sannois, which were almost deserted a little while ago, are frequented today by a considerable number of people; it seems as if everyone meets there; one encounters promenaders, artists, travellers, and even tourists”’ (Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven & London, 1982, pp. 21-22).
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