Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist in January 1885)
A. W. Kingman, New York (acquired from the above in 1886)
Durand-Ruel, New York (acquired from the above on March 5, 1896)
Durand-Ruel, Paris (transfer from the above in June 1896)
Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin (acquired on consignment from Durand-Ruel on October 25, 1917)
Art Gallery Georg Caspari, Munich (acquired from the above on October 25, 1917)
Louis Koch, Frankfurt-am-Main
Robert von Hirsch, Basel (by inheritance from the above and sold: Sotheby's, London, June 26-27, 1976, lot 721)
Cyril Humphris (acquired at the above sale)
Acquired by the present owner in 2000
New York, American Art Galleries; National Academy of Design, Works in Oil and Pastel by the Impressionists of Paris, 1886, no. 172
Reims, Palais de l'Industrie, 1896
Mulhouse, 7e exposition des Beaux-Arts, 1899, no. 248
London, Grafton Galleries, Pictures by Boudin..., 1905, no. 109
Venice, Exhibition Palace, 6e exposition internationale des Beaux-Arts, 1905
Basel Kunsthalle, Art français, 1906, no. 476
Budapest, Nemzetti Szalon, Modern Francia Festészet, 1907, no. 38
Munich, Moderne Galerie, Impressionisten, 1909, no. 26
Florence, Lyceum Club, Prima Mostra italiana dell'Impressionismo, 1910, no. 40
Berlin, Paul Cassirer, XV. Jahrgang. Sommerausstellung, 1913
Berlin, Paul Cassirer, XVI. Jahrgang. Sommerausstellung, 1914
(possibly) Zürich, Kunsthaus, Claude Monet, 1840-1926, 1952, no. 59 (titled Cap Martin and dated 1884)
"The French Impressionists," New York Tribune, April 10, 1886, letter no. 432
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Lausanne & Paris, 1979, no. 851, illustrated p. 113 and discussed in letter no. 432, p. 241
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, catalogue raisonné, vol. V, Lausanne, 1991, no. 851, listed p. 41
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Cologne, 1996, no. 851, illustrated p. 316
Monet had a lifelong commitment to painting en plein air as he explored how atmospheric conditions affect light and color. On December 1, 1883 Monet (see fig. 1) was near completion of six large interior panels at the apartment of his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, when he realized his extreme frustration with this project because he felt that his creativity was being stifled by the indoor surroundings. “I cannot wait until I am out of all this, it has been a century since I last worked outdoors” (quoted in Joachim Pissarro, Monet and the Mediterranean, New York, 1997, p. 27). Although Monet’s description of his state of mind was mostly one of hyperbole he impulsively departed to the Mediterranean with fellow Impressionist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir who assured him of the “wonderful things awaiting them there” (Paul Hayes Tucker, Claude Monet: Life and Art, New Haven, 1995, p. 118).
Joachim Pissarro writes how upon arriving in the Mediterranean region Monet was immediately “seized by a desire to respond to these new stimuli. Not only did this trip put an end to the ‘century-long’ imprisonment at Durand-Ruel’s but it also plunged him into an entirely alien world, rich with marvelously strange vegetation, exotic fragrances, and, of course, brilliant colors” (Pissarro, op. cit. p. 28). Près Monte Carlo was one of the first works executed by Monet on the shores of Monte Carlo and is amongst the finest seaside images of this period. The work depicts a seascape with rocks and vegetation, all elements that he was craving to see, experience and paint while he was in Paris. Monet’s quick Impressionistic brushstrokes and wide spectrum of color give the piece a dynamic sense of movement and a luminous quality. Moreover, the artist captures the beauty of his scenery with a extensive color palette that creates a glowing effect in the sky which is mirrored in the water.
Monet was fascinated with light and color throughout his career and Près Monte Carlo exemplifies how his unconventional coloration captures the viewer. The work is primarily comprised of blue and green hues that are common in a seaside landscape. Yet, Monet magnificently employs yellow and pink tones that hold the eye of the viewer and convey the dazzling light of this Mediterranean region. Renoir was also stimulated by the Mediterranean, and painted Paysage près de Menton where like Monet he tried to capture the unique light of the region (see fig. 2). Renoir wrote to Durand-Ruel in December 1883, “we saw everything, or almost, from Marseilles to Genoa. It is all superb, skylines you have no idea of. This evening the mountains were pink” (Nicholas Wadley, Renoir: A Retrospective, New York, 1987, p. 159).
Despite the success of the Impressionists in the 1870s, Monet was somewhat ambivalent about being closely associated with the other artists. He returned to the Mediterranean shores on two more extended trips from 1884 to 1908 as he was hoping to, “hone a more clearly individual idiom” (Pissarro, op. cit. p. 19). Monet was inspired by the Mediterranean light and the sea and explored these themes in depth when he returned to the South a month later and again, to Antibes, four years later. Antibes vue de la Salis (1888) (see fig. 3) is an image similar to the present work in composition, coloration, and subject with vegetation and the sea, yet different as the Alps are looming the background. These works exemplify how Monet devoted himself to each location and varied his color palette as he experimented with the, “exotic, wild, exuberant aspects of the South” (ibid).
Près Monte Carlo is a picture which represents many of Monet’s passions and was painted at a pivotal point in his career as he sought to advance beyond what his fellow Impressionists were creating. This painting was one of the first paintings completed in the Mediterranean and it was this fascination with this region which reinvigorated the artist and helped him to produce, “some of the most powerful, resonant, and innovative paintings he had ever produced— work that went well beyond Impressionism” (ibid).
Fig. 1. Claude Monet in 1883
Fig. 2. Auguste Renoir, Paysage près de Menton, 1883, oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Bequest of John T. Spaulding)
Fig. 3. Claude Monet, Antibes vue de la Salis ,1888, oil on canvas, The Toledo Museum of Art
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