Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above in February 1902)
Henry D. Hugues, Philadelphia (acquired in 1920)
Wildenstein & Co., Ltd., New York (by 1945)
Acquired from the above in 1955
Toledo, Ohio, Toledo Museum of Art, Opening Season 1905-1906, 1905, no. 93 (possibly)
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Monet, 1911, illustrated in the catalogue
Arsène Alexandre, "La vie artistique II. Exposition Monet-Pissarro," Le Figaro, Paris, February 17, 1902, mentioned p. 5
Charles Sauntes, "Gazette d’Art, Monet, Pissarro...," La Revue Blanche, 1907, mentioned pp. 385-386
Edmond Pilon, "Carnet des oeuvres et des hommes, Plusiers paysagistes," La Plume, March 15, 1902, discussed pp. 411-413
Lionello Venturi, Les Archives de l'Impressionnisme, Paris & New York, 1939, vol. I, mentioned p. 378
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Lausanne & Paris, 1985, no. 1640, illustrated p. 199, mentioned in letter nos. 1644, 1649a, b, c & pieces justificatives, no. 299
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Cologne, 1996, no. 1640, illustrated p. 737
The small village of Vétheuil is situated along the Seine between the city of Mantes and the town of Vernon, and was home to Monet and his family between 1878 and 1880. This picturesque location was the site of some of Monet’s most successful Impressionist landscapes during this period and continued to fascinate him well into his later career. The natural beauty of the region appealed to the artist, as did 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 tenth century church of Notre Dame de Vétheuil, juxtaposed against the patchwork of the landscape. In the two years that he made Vétheuil his home, Monet executed several views of the village as seen from across the river, with the fragmented reflection of the church and its environs appearing in the ripples of water. This was the view that attracted Monet’s attention again in 1901, when he rented a house on the banks of Lavacourt that summer and, from his balcony overlooking the river, painted fifteen canvases of the view of Vétheuil, including the present work. Monet’s return to this subject over twenty years later demonstrates a shift in his aesthetic objectives. No longer was he concerned with the buildings as objects per se. Instead, his concentration now focused primarily on the effects of the natural light as it illuminated the region and on the atmospheric quality of the landscape as a whole.
In his discussion of this series, John House explains how, at the turn of the century, Monet re-evaluated his spatial understanding of particular landscapes that he had visited at earlier points in his career: "For Monet, the distinctive quality of a site lay in what he called the enveloppe - its distinctive light and atmosphere. Clearly in the first instance his notion of this distinctive light derived from his direct observation and the practical experience of painting directly in front of the scene. However, as he worked he developed a clearer idea of what he saw as the essential characteristics of a place, and might be forced to revise paintings that he had executed from nature in the light of this idea" (J. House, Monet in the 20th Century (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London & Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1998-99, p. 9).
As was the case with many of his series paintings from the early twentieth century, Monet’s objective for his Vétheuil pictures was exploring the pronounced changes of natural light at different times of day. The subtlety of the changes that Monet observed, between the view of the town at sunset and the same view in the early morning or in the middle of the day, make this series among his finest explorations of light. As Helga Kessler Aurisch and Tanya Paul write: "Although the view of Vétheuil that Monet chose for the entire series is virtually the same in each of the fifteen paintings, there are subtle coloristic differences in keeping with the atmospheric conditions and times of day… Monet chose variations of dominantly pink, blue, yellow, or green tones for each individual canvas. He also varied his brushwork from one painting to the next, moving from very small, nervous strokes to broader, more expressive ones… Looking back at the group of similar panoramic views of Vétheuil that Monet painted more than twenty years earlier, it is astonishing to note his increased intensity of vision and capacity of variation within a small spectrum. Much like a great composer who spins out variation after variation from a simple theme, Monet achieves an incredible breadth of expression in these views"(H. K. Aurisch & T. Paul, Monet and the Seine. Impressions of a River (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston & Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, 2014, p. 152).
Of the fifteen paintings from the Vétheuil series a number are now in the collections of major international museums, including those of the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, The Pushkin Museum in Moscow, The Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal, The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo and the Musée des Beaux Arts in Lille.
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