Each morning during the summer and early fall of 1896 and 1897, Claude Monet would rise before dawn at his home in Giverny, don dew-resistant clothing and head to the river. There he would board his bateau-atelier, a rowboat from which he could work his canvases en plain air as the sun rose. The resulting body of work, the Matinée sur la Seine, reflects the artist’s determination to capture the effects of the lightening sky on the same view at the confluence of the river Epte and the Seine.
“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right . . . but its surroundings bring it to life . . . For me it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives objects their real value”
Monet painted twenty-one canvases in total of that specific morning view. The present work is among four from the series executed in 1896, during a summer that saw more than thirty days of rain, somewhat halting the artist’s progress. The majority of the series would not be completed until the following year.
CLAUDE MONET, MATINÉE SUR LA SEINE, 1896. ESTIMATE $18,000,000–25,000,000.
Beginning with his iconic series of paintings of grainstacks executed in 1890–91, Monet became consumed by the practice of returning over and over to a particular landscape view, each time capturing the changing light and conditions with heavy impasto and lavishly worked surfaces.
CLAUDE MONET, THE STUDIO BOAT (LE BATEAU-ATELIER), 1876. IN THE COLLECTION OF THE BARNES FOUNDATION.
The 1890s were a decade that saw Monet singularly absorbed with serial production of works with nearly identical subject matter. From the haystacks series he would move on to luminous architecure of the Rouen Cathedral and of course to the iconic works depicting his own lush gardens at his home in Giverny. It is from this productive decade that can be traced the momentous ascendancy of modern art.