PROPERTY FROM THE H.O. HAVEMEYER COLLECTION
Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist on February 18, 1873)
M Leclanché (circa 1889)
Durand-Ruel, New York (on consignment from the above)
Mr. & Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (acquired from the above on May 28, 1901)
Adaline Havemeyer Frelinghuysen, Morristown (acquired by descent from the above in 1929)
H.O.H. Frelinghuysen (by descent from the above)
By descent from the above
London, 6th Exhibition of the Society of French Artists, 1873, no. 120
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Monet-Rodin, 1889, no. 30
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Tableaux par Besnard, Cazin, C. Monet, 1899, no. 45
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, 1993, no. 391, illustrated in the catalogue
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (on loan from 1994 to 2009)
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Lausanne & Paris, 1974, no. 200, illustrated p. 205; no. 65, discussed as Printemps, p. 447
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Lausanne & Paris, 1979, no. 986, discussed as Printemps, p. 249
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. V, Lausanne & Paris, 1991, no. 200, listed p. 25
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Cologne, 1996, no. 200, illustrated p. 91
Voilier sur le petit bras de la Seine, Argenteuil, created at the dawning of the Impressionist movement in the early 1870s, is one of Monet's first major landscapes of his new home, just outside of Paris. Argenteuil was famous for its annual regatta, and Monet took full advantage of the town's nautical resources to depict scenes of sailboats on the Seine. As Paul Hayes Tucker explains, "[By] 1871, when Monet moved there, his new home was not just some secluded little town outside of Paris but a celebrated center for pleasure boating in France. Boating meant Argenteuil and Argenteuil meant boating; the two were inseparable. The importance of this fact cannot be overemphasized, considering how much of Monet's work is devoted to sailboats on the Seine. He could have painted the barges or the fishing boats as Daubigny had when he came to neighboring Bezons – for these vessels could still be seen coming and going on the river in Argenteuil in the 1870s – but they were old-fashioned. Rather, Monet chose to depict only those craft that represented the leisure activity of the day, and one of the most up-to-date aspects of the life of the town" (P. H. Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven, 1982, pp. 90-91).
The present work, painted in 1872, was one of Monet's first major compositions depicting the theme of boats on the water. Monet devoted several canvases to the subject in the early 1870s, most famously in his renowned Le Havre composition, Impression, soleil levant, which would launch the avant-garde movement named after a derivative of that painting's title. For his execution of Voilier sur le petit bras de la Seine, Argenteuil, Monet chose a location along the Seine known as the Petit Bras, literally a small arm or tributary of the river that encircled the island of Marante. The view here is nearly identical to one that Monet painted in the spring of 1872, leading Daniel Wildenstein to conclude that the present canvas must have been mistakenly dated by the artist at a later point. In both pictures, we are looking towards Bezons with the Colombes bank on the left and the Ile Marante in the foreground. This was a favorite spot for Monet to paint, and it is one of three particular locations, including the wide river basin and the heavily trafficked boat rental area, that figure into Monet's pictures of Argenteuil during the 1870s.
"Of the three sites," Paul Tucker tells us, "the Petit Bras attracted Monet the most during his first year. In addition to its Barbizon appeal, it was similar to the waterways he had recently painted in Holland. However, it did not occupy him to the exclusion of the basin and the boat rental area. As in his views of the town, Monet painted the gamut of tourist subjects, even an actual regatta. Over the next three years, he shifted his attention to the more public areas, returning to the Petit Bras only in 1876 after he stopped painting the highway and railroad bridges" (ibid., p. 96).
As was characteristic of his best Impressionist landscapes, Monet painted Voilier sur le petit bras de la Seine, Argenteuil on location, setting up his easel along the banks of the river in order to capture the fleeting effects of light and shadow glistening on the surface of the water. Monet's approach for this picture, and his other depictions of his boats along the Seine, was an exercise in celebrating the pleasures of modern life. Like Degas' depictions of the horserace or the ballet, Monet's depictions of sailboats and regattas was, according to Tucker, "a modern subject that revealed the spirit and opportunities of the ear and the processes and poetry of art" (ibid., p. 101). The present work has been on loan at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the past fifteen years.
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