Art Institute of Chicago (acquired as a gift from the above in 1922 and sold: Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc., New York, March 2, 1944, lot 59)
Thomas J. Watson, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection, Switzerland
J. Barry Donahue Fine Arts, Inc., Litchfield
Acquired from the above in 1998
Tokyo, Wildenstein Gallery, La Joie de vivre au tournant du siecle, 1991, no. 5, illustrated in color in the catalogue
M.C., "Monet in the Art Institute," Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, XIX, no. 2, Chicago, February 1925, p. 19
Oscar Reuterswärd, Monet, En konstnärshistorik, Stockholm, 1948, illustrated p. 280
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Lausanne & Paris, 1979, no. 1136, illustrated p. 93
R.T. Dunn, The Monet-Rodin Exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1889 (Ph.D. dissertation), Northwestern University, Chicago, 1978, no. 144, pp. 80 & 250
Claude Monet-Auguste Rodin, Centenaire de l'exposition de 1889 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 1989, no. 144, illustrated p. 99
Marianne Alphant, Claude Monet, Une vie dans le paysage, Paris, 1993, illustrated p. 372
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Cologne, 1996, no. 1136, illustrated in color p. 429
The present work is closely related to a small group of canvases painted during the summer of 1887 (W. 1131-1135). In his biography of Monet’s life, Charles Stuckey quotes Monet, stating that during July and August he worked on “figures out-of-doors the way I understand them, done like landscapes. It is an old dream that plagues me and I would love to carry it to realisation one time” (the artist quoted in Claude Monet: 1840-1926 (exhibition catalogue), The Art Institute of Chicago, 1995, p. 215). Stuckey suggests that the impetus for painting figures might have come from seeing Berthe Morisot figure studies. One of the works Monet executed, Dans le Marais de Giverny, Suzanne lisant et Blach poignant (now in the Los Angeles Museum of Art), shares the intimate, domestic scope of Morisot’s work. Whilst the present work and its counterpart, Soleil les Poupliers, effet de soleil (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart), present a panoramic view of the fields at Les Essarts with the figures as part of the landscape itself. This area in the commune of Limetz, nestled between the two branches of the river Epte (a tributary of the Seine) became a favourite painting spot and recurs throughout his work of the following decade, most notably in the Meules and Peupliers series.
The first owners of the present work were Potter and Bertha Palmer of Chicago, whose vast collection of contemporary art reflected their recently acquired fortune. Between 1891 and 1893 Mr and Mrs Potter Palmer acquired thirty-three paintings by Monet from Durand-Ruel. In The Ultimate Trophy Philip Hook wrote about this extraordinary couple: ‘Mr Potter Palmer was the richest man in Chicago. He was a property developer who built hotels […]. At home in the Palmer residence there was a vast Louis XVI salon and all sorts of glamorous accoutrements. Mrs Potter Palmer was the unchallenged queen of Chicago social life. Advised by Mary Cassatt, Mrs Potter Palmer went to visit Monet in Giverny in 1891 and bought a painting from him. Many more followed. […] The Potter Palmer collection ended up in The Art Institute of Chicago and is the main reason why that museum is so rich in Impressionism’ (P. Hook, The Ultimate Trophy: How the Impressionist Painting Conquered the World, London, 2010, p. 74-75). The present work was included in the Palmer’s generous gift to the Art Institute and remained in the museum’s possession until it was sold in 1944. Sous les Peupliers has remained in the United States ever since and is a remarkable testament to the pioneering tastes of the American collectors who supported Impressionism from its infancy.
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