Lot 4
  • 4

Claude Monet

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 GBP
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  • Claude Monet
  • Vase de pivoines
  • signed Claude Monet (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 100 by 81cm.
  • 39 3/8 by 31 7/8 in.


Jacques Michel de Zoubaloff, Paris (acquired from the artist in February 1920. Sold: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, Vente Zoubaloff, 17th June 1927, lot 145)

Gerson (purchased at the above sale)

Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 16th February 1942, lot 57

Sale: Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1st-2nd April 1954, lot 71

Private Collection, Switzerland (sold: Sotheby’s, London, 26th March 1980, lot 9)

Private Collection, U.S.A. (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Sotheby’s, New York, 8th November 1995, lot 41)

Purchased at the above sale by the late owner


London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Selected Paintings of All Periods by Claude Monet 1840-1926, 1939, no. 11, illustrated in the cataloge (titled Fleurs and dated 1880)


Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris & Lausanne, 1979, vol. II, no. 809, illustrated p. 97

Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris & Lausanne, 1985, vol. IV, letters nos. 2333 & 2334, mentioned p. 404

Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris & Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, letters no. 2334, mentioned pp. 40 & 187

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, no. 809, illustrated p. 301


The canvas is unlined. There are some very fine lines of stable craquelure in the thicker areas of impasto. There are a few tiny spots of retouching scattered along the upper framing edge, and a few further spots in the lower part of the composition, visible under ultra-violet light. Apart from a spot of retouching to the red peony in the upper right, corresponding to a small paint loss, this work is in very good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although richer and more vibrant, and the blue and green tones are more pronounced 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

Monet returned to painting still-lifes periodically throughout his career, executing an array of traditional subjects, the most compelling of which are his vibrant pictures of flowers (fig. 1). Although his choice of subject matter followed a tradition of still-life painting that reached its zenith in the eighteenth-century with artists such as Jean-Siméon Chardin and Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Monet’s approach to still life was as innovative as his painting of landscapes. Stephan Koja describes Monet’s ‘unconventional and unpretentious approach to his subjects’, writing: ‘There is nothing artificial about his arrangements, nor are they welded to a spatial context… Once again, he relied entirely on the effect of colour, endeavouring to apply the stylistic vocabulary he had evolved in his landscape paintings, with its typical short brush-strokes’ (S. Koja, in Monet (exhibition catalogue), Belvedere, Vienna, 1996, p. 92). This is especially true of the present work in which the flowers are loosely arranged, with the fallen petals scattered abundantly around the base of the vase. Monet combines this natural display with fluid, broad brushstrokes that lend the painting a remarkable sense of spontaneity and immediacy.

Like many of his fellow Impressionists Monet often turned to the still life as a lucrative form of employment. As Richard Thomson and Michael Clarke discuss: ‘The still-life paintings Monet made in the 1878-1883 period served various purposes, providing a break from landscape work and offering an alternative activity in poor weather. But above all they were commercially expedient, at a time when the artist and his family were in pressing need of funds’ (R. Thomson & M. Clarke, Monet. The Seine and the Sea 1878-1883 (exhibition catalogue), National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2003, p. 76). In the early 1880s both Monet and his dealer Durand-Ruel experienced considerable financial difficulties that were exacerbated by the collapse of the Union Générale bank in 1882. This may have inspired the group of still-lifes that Monet worked on over the course of the year, at least one of which was produced following a suggestion from Durand-Ruel.

Still-lifes must have greatly preoccupied Monet during this year as in May he accepted a commission from Durand-Ruel to paint some panels for his dining room doors. As the initial panels took shape, Durand-Ruel added to the commission, asking Monet to provide thirty-six pictures for the doors of his drawing room at 35 Rue de Rome. The project took longer than expected to complete despite Durand-Ruel sending Monet some vases for flowers in an attempt to encourage him. It was at this time, shortly after the present work was painted, that Monet moved into the house in Giverny and began work planting the garden there (fig. 2). This garden would go on to inspire many of his most important works but it began with Monet planting a great panoply of flowers, telling Durand-Ruel: ‘I have gardening to do and have been busy with that in the hope of harvesting a few flowers to paint when the weather turns’ (quoted in Monet’s Garden (exhibition catalogue), Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, 2013, p. 2).