PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist in October 1890)
Herz (acquired from the above on November 4, 1891)
Durand-Ruel, Paris (1891)
Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London (acquired from the above on May 9, 1947)
Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill, London
Mrs. Oliver Parker, London (sold: Sotheby's, London, July 9, 1958, lot 93
Arthur Tooth, Ltd., circa 1972
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre), London
Acquavella Galleries, New York
Private Collection, Los Angeles
Paris, Durand-Ruel, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir et Sisley, 1899, no. 30
London, Grafton Galleries, Pictures by Boudin..., 1905, no. 143
Manchester, Art Gallery, Modern French Paintings, 1907-08, no. 87
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paysages par Cl. Monet et Renoir, 1908, no. 32
Brussels, Exposition universelle, 1910, no. 33
London, Grosvenor House, Art français,1914, no. 45
The Hague & Amsterdam, Art contemporain français, 1926, no. 177
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Cl. Monet, 1928, no. 57
(possibly) London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., Claude Monet, 1939, no. 17
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., Cl. Monet, 1954, no. 40
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Inc., XIX & XX Century Master Paintings and Sculpture, 1998
L. de Saint-Valéry, "Paysages de Cl. Monet et de Renoir," La Revue des Beaux-Arts, Paris, May 31, 1908
Lionello Venturi, Les origines des l'Impressionnisme, vol. I, Paris, 1939, p. 333
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et Catalogue raisonné, Paris & Lausanne, 1979, vol. III, no. 1245, illustrated p. 131; discussed in letter no. 1079, p. 259
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Cologne, 1996, no. 1245, illustrated p. 475
Painted in 1890, Effet de printemps à Giverny is a work of superlative quality, representing the pinnacle of Monet's Impressionist style. The rich painterly surface and the artist's unbridled brushstrokes convey the unique atmosphere and the lustrous quality of light which so inspired Monet as he painted en plein air in Giverny, just a few kilometres from his home. The present work belongs to a series of canvases depicting fields of hay, oats and poppies in which the artist's rigorous application of paint, Paul Hayes Tucker suggests, indicates that Monet had become more concerned not only with overall atmospheric effects but also with emphasizing the decorative, tapestry-like qualities that painting can achieve. It therefore marks a subtle yet important turning point in Monet's style, as well as the emergence of an idea that was to dominate that artist's production over the ensuing year.
Writing about the present painting, Daniel Wildenstein observed: "The trees shown in this picture, as in all the other pictures painted by Monet, have long since disappeared. The hill on the right is the one which slopes down from Giverny towards Vernonnet. Given this orientation, we can deduce that this is a morning effect, painted in the flowery meadows of Les Essarts; the first haystacks can be seen in the distance" (D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1996, p. 475). Indeed, the image of haystacks or grainstacks was a recurring motif in Monet's painting around this time. Monet began to work on the group of paintings that are almost universally termed Haystacks as early as 1884, depicting stacks that were subsumed into a wider environment. The major series of majestic canvases depicting grainstacks and focusing on the evanescent effects of light on them from close-to was completed between 1889 and 1891. Here, the artist has widened the scope of his composition, showing one or two isolated stacks towards the center against the backdrop of a lush landscape.
Executed at the height of Monet's Impressionism, Effet de printemps à Giverny exemplifies the artist's life-long commitment to painting en plein air, exploring the effects of weather conditions and light at different times of the day on the surrounding landscape. Painted in the plain of Les Essarts, this work depicts the green expanses not far from the artist's home in Giverny. By 1890, Monet had become financially successful enough to buy the house and a large garden at Giverny, which he had rented since 1883. This region would provide the most significant source of inspiration in the artist's oeuvre, including Monet's celebrated garden, as well as its surrounding area. The present composition is divided into three segments: the flowery meadow in the foreground, the blossoming trees in the centre, and the sky above them. Monet evidently took great joy in depicting this colorful landscape, as he painted the same view in another three compositions, exploring the effects of light at different times of the day.
As Paul Hayes Tucker observes, "The fact that these paintings depict rich and fertile fields is unusual. The fields surrounding Monet's property had frequently been the focus of his attention when he had worked in Giverny, but most often he had painted them either before any crops had begun to grow or after they had been harvested. And he usually had included members of his family, as if he needed to personalize the sites during his early years in the farming community. That Monet would focus on much narrower agrarian subjects in 1890 is significant, for he painted those fields far less frequently during the 1880s -- in fact, no more than a dozen times. When he did, he used compositional strategies that he would employ in 1890 as well. He also tended to paint views of haystacks at the same time, just as he would focus on grainstacks in the next decade. Thus when Monet returned to these subjects in 1890, he was consciously reacquainting himself not only with Giverny's sheer beauty but also with its fundamental agrarian character" (P. Hayes Tucker, Monet in the '90s, The Series Paintings (exhibition catalogue), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989, pp. 76-77)
In contrast with the poplar series executed around this time, in which the tall, elongated trees occupy the entire height of the canvas, in the present work the artist paid equal attention to the rich, colorful stretch of the green field in the foreground, a feature typical of the local landscape that he so admired. Writing about Monet's paintings executed in 1890, Paul Hayes Tucker observed that "he concentrated primarily on subjects round his Giverny estate that suggested the bounties of the soil and the poetry of rural light. The largest number of pictures he produced were more than a dozen views of flowing fields of hay, oats, and poppies [...], all of which are filled with the freshness of the day. Despite the lack of human figures, these pictures exude a sense of fullness" (P. Hayes Tucker, Claude Monet. Life and Art, New Haven & London, 1995, p. 139).
Discreetly painted in the present work, stacks of grain would become the subject of one of Monet's best known series over the following year. His series paintings are now among the most celebrated works of Impressionist art, and are often considered the finest compositions of the artist's oeuvre. Technically defined as variations of the same motif, usually vistas of a particular landscape, these pictures examine the subtle nuances of light and shadow, and evidence Monet's fascination with exploring the ever-changing nature of a given setting. The artist began experimenting with this pictorial treatment as early as the 1870s and 1880s, rendering a series of canvases of the cliffs of Etretat, for example, and altering the time of day and perspective of each one. As a group, these works were remarkably varied in composition and treatment, clear evidence of Monet's growing recognition that henceforth his works would generally be part of a series. The significance of the present work, in light of this context, is undisputable, for it represents one of the artist's most renowned and recognised ideas or the verge of its full fruition.
According to Paul Hayes Tucker, "Monet was to earn [his] reputation, initially at least, on the basis of his Grainstack pictures, which were likely begun in late August or early September 1890, when agrarian manuals of the time indicate local farmers would have begun cutting their fields and constructing their stacks. Just prior to this undertaking, probably sometime in late July, he started a series of pictures that depict the fields of hay, oats, and poppies around his Giverny house. While reduced in visual incident and rather simplistic compositionally, they are rigorously painted, suggesting that Monet had become more concerned with overall atmospheric effects, as he told Geffroy that summer, but also with empasizing the decorative, tapestrylike qualities that painting can achieve" (Monet in the '90s, The Series Paintings, op. cit., pp. 75-76).
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