PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York (acquired from the above)
Catholina Lambert, Paterson, New Jersey (acquired from the above on December 24, 1890)
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above on April 26, 1904)
Hugo Reisinger, New York (acquired from the above on January 26, 1907)
Mrs. Charles Greenough, New York (inherited from the above 1924)
Jacques Seligmann & Co., New York
Georges Lurcy, New York
Estate of Georges Lurcy, New York (sale: Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, November 7, 1957, lot 32)
C. Douglas Dillon, New York (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby’s, New York May 9, 1989, lot 18)
Seibu Department Store, Tokyo (acquired at the above sale)
Acquavella Contemporary Art, Inc., New York (acquired from the above)
Acquired from the above in 2000
New York, Union League Club, Monet, 1891, no. 71
Boston, Copley Hall, Monet-Rodin, 1905, no. 76
Boston, Walter Kimball Gallery, Plein-air Art, 1905
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Monet, 1907, no. 5
New York, Fearson Gallery, French Painters of the 19th Century, 1924, no. 3
New York, Wildenstein & Co., One Hundred Years of Impressionism, 1970, no. 101
International Studio, September 1909, illustrated pl. LVIII
Gustave Geoffroy, Claude Monet, sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre, Paris, 1922, p. 188
Louis Vauxcelles, "Claude Monet", L'Amour de l'Art, Paris, August 1922, p. 235
Maurice Malingue, Claude Monet, Monaco, 1943, pp. 97, 147, illustrated
Oskar Reutersward, Monet, Stockholm, 1948, p. 134, illustrated p. 138
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Lausanne & Paris, 1975, no. 680, illustrated p. 404
Claude Monet-Auguste Rodin, Centenaire de l'exposition de 1889 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 1989, no. 52, illustrated p. 82
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. V, Paris, 1991, p. 36
Virginia Spate, Claude Monet, Life and Work, London, 1992, p. 144
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Cologne, 1996, no. 680, illustrated p. 256
Monet's magnificent depiction of his garden at Vétheuil exemplifies the visual splendor of Impressionism at its height. Monet painted this work in 1881 as a new chapter of his life was unfolding, and this picture expresses the exuberance and renewed passion of the artist during this important period. Seated among the flowers is Alice Hoschedé, the artist's thirty-seven year old lover and the wife of his close friend and patron Ernst Hoschedé. The composition is lavished with all of the hallmarks of a great Impressionist composition, with its vivid color palette, intermingling of the natural elements and interplay of light and shadow. Depicted in a luminous white dress similar to that worn by his late wife Camille in an earlier composition, Alice fingers her needlework in the shade of a tree's arching bow with Seine river off in the distance. Monet boasted that his pictures of this period were all painted outdoors, and we can clearly imagine him seated at his easel and relishing in this vision of the resplendent Alice, gleaming in sunshine and surrounded by roses.
Alice Hoschedé au jardin dates from a crucial turning point in Monet's relationship with Alice, shortly before their love affair was revealed to her husband. The Monet and Hoschedé families had shared a house in Vétheuil following Ernst's bankruptcy in 1877, relying upon each other during hard times and ultimately forming a close bond. Following the death of Monet's wife Camille in 1879, Alice assumed the maternal role in the dual household, which soon blossomed into an affair with the grieving artist. The author Sue Roe describes the nature of this relationship and the turn it took in 1881, soon after Monet completed the present work: "The circumstances of [Alice's] move to Vétheuil, ostensibly as a loyal friend, nursing Camille and taking care of Monet's two little boys, had been ambiguous. But -- as it had finally dawned on even Hoschedé himself -- the decision to move in with Monet as his lover, especially as a married woman and a devout Catholic, was another matter, constituting flagrant desertion of her husband" (Sue Roe, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, New York, 2006, p. 231). By the end of that year Alice would leave her husband permanantly for Monet, moving with him to Poissy and later to Giverny. The couple married in 1892 following Ernst's death and remained together until Alice's in 1911.
The present work is the more detailed of two depictions that Monet painted of Alice in the garden in 1881. The pendant for this composition (W. 680) was included in the historic seventh Impressionist show in 1882 in Paris, which would be Monet's final engagement with the original group of Impressionist artists. For the occassion he selected thirty-five works that attracted much critical praise, including the recognition of the critic Armand Silvestre as being "the most exquisite of the Impressionists" and "one of the true contemporary poets of the things of nature." The present work made its public debut in 1889 on the occasion of a grand retrospective of the the artist's painting and Rodin's sculpture at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris. The artist had been asked to select works that defined each of the years of his production, and he chose the present composition as an encapsulation of 1881.
In her monograph of the artist, Virginia Spate provides the following analysis of this picture: "In painting of the garden at Vétheuil, he insisted upon the presence of the fence, whose emphatic rail and palings sharply mark off the world of the domestic garden from that which lies beyong, whereas in most earlier paintings of the subject, the woman was enclosed by foliage, and Monet rarely showed the prosaic boundaries of the gardern. The Terrace at Sainte-Adresse was an exception, in that in this work Monet fenced in the figures, creating a secure space from which they survey their world, whereas Alice Hoschedé is shown completely absourbed within the garden" (V. Spate, op. cit., p. 144).
The Vétheuil compositions, including the present canvas, show Monet at his most ambitious, revealing his devotion to his craft. These were the years that gave rise to his riveting depictions of the ice-floes on the Seine, along with some of his most compositionally sophisticated landscapes of the river valley. He moved to this area of the Seine valley from Argenteuil in 1878, and the following five years he spent there with his family were to be some of the most tumultuous of his life. Painting offered a respite during this era, and those canvases he produced during this period celebrate the splendor of the French countryside. These pictures would ultimately be sold by Paul Durand-Ruel at the end of 1881, elevating the artist into a more secure financial position and launching him into yet another phase of his artistic development.
We know that Durand-Ruel acquired this picture from Monet at the end of 1881 and presumably sent it to his gallery in New York, as it was eventually sold to Catholina Lambert, the British-born silk manufacturer and New Jersey resident. Lambert, who was the owner of record when this picture was exhibited at the landmark Union League Club exhibition of Monet's work, continually revised his collection and owned approximately twenty-five works by Monet which he purchased directly from Durand-Ruel. The present work entered his collection in 1891 and can be seen in a photograph of the Grand Art Hall at his Belle Vista Castle in Paterson, New Jersey in 1896. Nearly a decade later it entered the collection of Hugo Reisinger (1856-1914), the German born, New York-based merchant who was married to Edmee Busch (1871-1955), an heir of the Anheuser-Busch brewery dynasty based in St. Louis. Reisinger's weath and the core of his extensive collection of modern German art eventually formed the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University. Upon his death, the picture remained with his family, who included his son Walter F. Reisinger and his wife Edmee, who would later remarry Major Charles Greenough in 1920.
The picture later came into the possession of Georges Lurcy (1891-1953), the prominent collector of Impressionist and Modern Art. While an executive at the Rothschild bank in France, Lurcy (born Georges Lévy) rose quickly to the top of his profession and his genius as in investor in hydroplanes made him a large fortune during World War I. Lurcy amassed an astounding treasure trove of paintings by the great masters of late 19th and early 20th century art while living in France in the 1930s with his young American wife, Alice Snow Barbee. Prior to leaving France for the United States in 1940, he briefly served as a resistance fighter and gave his château at Meslay le Vidame to the town’s mayor to be converted into a sanitarium. Changing his name from Lévy to Lurcy to protect his family at the outbreak of war, Lurcy and his wife Alice Snow Barbee brought their exceptional collection to the United States, establishing homes on Fifth Avenue in New York and at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Georges enrolled in classes at the University. Students at the time remembered him for his supreme generosity and his approachable genius. Following Lurcy's death in 1953, this work was sold at a landmark auction at Parke Bernet Galleries in New York, when it was purchased by C. Douglas Dillon (1909-2003), the American diplomat, politian and trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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