Lot 32
  • 32

Claude Monet

Estimate
9,000,000 - 14,000,000 USD
Sold
16,125,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Claude Monet
  • Glaçons, effet blanc
  • Signed and dated Claude Monet 94 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas

Provenance

Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Paris (acquired form the artist in February 1894)

Edmond Decap, Paris, 1894 (acquired from the above in 1894)

Private Collection , France

Private Collection, Asia (circa 1980)

Duhamel Fine Arts, Paris

Acquired through the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Tokyo, Magasin Tokyu; Osaka, Magasin Daimaru & Fukuoka, Magasin Iwakaya, Monet, 1970, no. 15, illustrated

Paris, Pinacothèque de Paris, long-term loan until February 2013

Literature

Maurice Malingue, Claude Monet, Paris, 1943, pp. 136 & 148, illustrated in color

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet Vie et Oeuvre,  Genève, 1979, vol. III, no. 1337, illustrated p. 162-63

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. III, no. 1337, p. 544, illustrated p. 543

Catalogue Note

Among Monet’s most celebrated and visually spectacular canvases are his depictions of floating ice on the Seine.  These majestic compositions exemplify his talent for capturing the nuances of the natural world in flux, and Glaçons, effet blancis among the most elegant.   This view of the left bank and the islet of Forée from Bennecourt belongs to a series of fifteen river views completed during the winter of 1892-93.  Monet painted this composition in early January 1893, while the temperatures were still frigid enough to create the atmospheric drama that we see here. Through the haze of frosty air, the large sheets of ice have begun to break apart on the surface of the river as they drift downstream, while the banks and treetops in the distance glisten with the melting snow.   By the end of the month, the thaw brought Monet’s campaign to an abrupt end, leaving the artist with several unfinished compositions that he would have to complete in his studio.  The present composition, which Monet dated upon its sale the following year in 1894, is among the most visceral of these grand compositions and perhaps his most sensory interpretation of his observations that winter.

 

Monet’s Bennecourt series was his third attempt at depicting the transformation of the frozen river.  Earlier depictions at Bougival in 1868 and then at Lavacourt, near Vétheuil, in 1879-80, mark his fascination with this subject and the gripping effect of the subject on his psyche.  These scenes were meditations on the cycles of life and the relentless passage of time, and the artist’s apparent awe with the grandeur of nature.  Paul Tucker suggests that Monet’s decision to focus on the ice floes yet again was an attempt to “reinvigorate himself, even to the point of painting outdoors in temperatures that were well below freezing.  They are at once elegiac and soothing, appropriately familiar in their composition and handling while striking in their color and their chilling atmospheric effects” (P.H. Tucker, Monet in the ‘90s, The Series Paintings, Boston, 1989, p. 169).

Monet’s series paintings from the 1890s are widely considered his finest and most innovative achievements.   By painting the same subject at various times of day and under different weather conditions, he could document the continual transformation of his surroundings.  His painting of  Glaçons, effet blanc and the related canvases coincided with his series of depictions of Rouen Cathedral, and both undertakings reveal similarities in palette and approach.  Monet would apply the lessons he learned from these pictures to later series of misty mornings on the Seine and ultimately to his depictions of the waterlilies in his garden at Giverny.  Perhaps more than any of the series from this decade, the ice floe pictures laid the groundwork for his approach to his renderings of the floating lilypads and the reflection of the trees and sky in the garden pond.

Monet continued to work on this series long after the ice melted on the Seine and into the following year.  As was the case for most of his plein-air compositions, he worked on these paintings intermittently throughout the day and would complete many of them in his studio.  His practice was often to sign paintings only upon turning them over to his dealer, and the present work is dated accordingly on the occasion of its consignment in February 1894 to the dealers Boussod, Valadon & Cie.  The picture was sold shortly thereafter to Edmond Decap, one of the first major collectors of Impressionist art.  

Monet's series of ice floes has since gained a significant following in the literary world, having been described beautifully in Marcel Proust's first novel, Jean Santeuil, and most recently requoted in Edmund de Waal's family history, The Hare with Amber Eyes.  Proust's gorgeous literary description captures the essense of what we see here: "A day of thaw ... the sun, the blue of the sky, the broken ice, the mud, and the moving water turning the river into a dazzling mirror" (M. Proust, reprinted in Edmund de Waal, The Hair with Amber Eyes, A Hidden Inheritance, New York, 2010).

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