Lot 5
  • 5

Claude Monet

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 GBP
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  • Claude Monet
  • signed Cl. Monet (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 55 by 74cm.
  • 21 5/8 by 29 1/8 in.


A. Bergaud, Paris (sold: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, Vente A. Bergaud, 1st & 2nd March 1920, lot 48)
M. A. Savard (purchased at the above sale)
Gadala (circa 1969)
Sale: Hôtel des ventes, Enghien, 8th June 1980, lot 79
Sale: Nouveau Drouot, Paris, 8th December 1982, lot 55
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, 11th November 1987, lot 7
Galerie Schmit, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1988


Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux par Claude Monet, 1928, no. 7 (titled La Seine à Vétheuil and as dating from 1873)
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Claude Monet de 1865 à 1888, 1935, no. 29 (as dating from 1878)
Le Mans, Musée de Tessé, Cent ans de peinture moderne de Claude Monet à Arman, 1975 (titled La Seine sous la neige à Vetheuil)
Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, Monet: The Seine and The Sea 1878-1883, 2003, no. 9, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne & Paris, 1974, vol. I, no. 513, illustrated p. 337
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Catalogue rasonné, Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, p. 33
Marianne Alphant, Claude Monet, une vie dans le paysage, Paris, 1993, p. 302
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet. Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, no. 513, illustrated in colour p. 202


The canvas is lined. There are some scattered spots and areas of retouching, mainly along the right framing edge, in the top right corner, two horizontal lines in the sky, and some other scattered spots of retouching, mainly in the sky, visible under ultra-violet light. Otherwise this work is in good condition. Colours: In comparison with the printed catalogue illustration, the tonality is overall less warm, and the colours are richer and more varied in the original.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This magnificent winter landscape depicts the banks of the river Seine, with a view of the small village of Lavacourt. Having left Argenteuil in the summer of 1878, Monet and his family moved to this region and settled in Vétheuil, situated some sixty kilometres north of Paris. This area was less developed and less industrialised than Argenteuil, and Monet was delighted by the rich, unspoilt nature offered by his new surroundings. The three years that he spent there proved to be very productive, resulting in a number of paintings of both Lavacourt and Vétheuil, two picturesque villages situated across the river from each other. The present composition is dominated by the main road leading into the village, covered by the shimmering pale blue and white brushstrokes of snow. The receding diagonal line of the street takes the viewer's eye towards the centre of the composition, to a focal point where the lines of houses, the river, the row of trees and the mountains in the background all meet.


Writing about Monet's landscapes and riverscapes executed around the same time as the present work, Katherine Rothkopf observed: 'Monet often painted the small village of Lavacourt during this period. Located on the banks of the Seine near Vétheuil, Lavacourt appealed to Monet for its location and rural quaintness. He painted at least sixteen views of the town during the fall and winter of 1878-79, and was particularly drawn to the group of buildings in the village that were located next to the towpath along the river. Throughout this series of river views, Monet painted the town from looking both upstream and downstream, and often included a view of the opposite bank. He investigated this motif in both fair and inclement weather during this period' (K. Rothkopf in Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige (exhibition catalogue), The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., 1998-99, p. 104).  


Monet painted his first snow scene in Honfleur in 1865, and returned to this subject again in early 1867, in a series of winter landscapes inspired by a heavy snowfall that winter. Fascinated by snow and by the possibilities it offered him as a painter, and attracted by the unique quality of winter light, Monet executed a number of snow-covered landscapes throughout his career. In 1895 he travelled to Norway, and was delighted with the scenery and a different quality of northern light, resulting in several outstanding paintings. The winter of 1879 was cold and with heavy snowfalls, particularly throughout the months of November and December, and offered Monet plenty of opportunities to produce a number of winter landscapes. During his painting sessions, he depicted his surroundings from various vantage points, sometimes capturing a wider view of the village, with the mountains looming large in the background (fig. 1), and at other times positioning his easel closer to the village, showing the buildings with their characteristic grey-blue roofs (fig. 2).


Writing about Monet's snow scenes, Eliza E. Rathbone observed: 'The Impressionists, and above all Monet, determined to record the complete spectrum: deep snow in brilliant sunshine, creating the bluest of blue shadows; snow under a low, gray winter sky that shrouds nature in a single tonality; landscapes so deep in snow that all details are obscured, evoking a silent world; even snow melting along a country road at sunset; or, perhaps most striking, a sky filled with snow falling. Of all the Impressionists, Monet painted the largest number of snowscapes and the greatest variety of site, time of day, quality of light, and quality of snow itself. He was not only interested in a relatively traditional conception of a snowy landscape, but he found beauty in unexpected phenomena of winter. He brought to his snowscapes his desire to experiment both with new technique and with formal invention' (E. E. Rathbone, 'Monet, Japonisme, and Effets de Neige', in ibid., p. 25).




Fig. 1, Claude Monet, Entrée du village de Vétheuil, l'hiver, 1879, oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Fig. 2, Claude Monet, La Route à Vétheuil, l'hiver, 1879, oil on canvas, Göteborg Konstmuseum, Göteborg