- Claude Monet
- Fin d'après-midi, Vétheuil
- signed Claude Monet and dated 80 (lower left)
- oil on canvas
- 72 by 99cm.
- 28 1/2 by 39 1/4 in.
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (acquired by 1899)
Wilhelm Hansen, Ordrupgaard (acquired circa 1918)
Prince Kojiro Matsukata, Japan (acquired in 1922)
Irmano, Japan (acquired circa 1928)
Fujikawa Gallery, Japan
Sale: Christie's, London, 27th November 1989, lot 8
Sale: Christie's, London, 30th November 1992, lot 8
E.V. Thaw, New York
Private Collection (acquired from the above. Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 5th May 2010, lot 32)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Paris, Galeries Georges Petit, Monet, 1924, no. 27
San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Inaugural Exposition of French Art, 1924-25, no. 39
Tokyo, Magasin Tokyu; Osaka, Magasin Daimaru & Fukuoka, Magasin Iwakaya, Claude Monet, 1970, no. 5
Ernest Dumonthier, 'La Collection W. Hansen', in La Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, Paris, 1922, no. 241, mentioned p. 338
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Biographie et Catalogue raisonné, Lausanne & Paris, 1974, vol. I, no. 590, illustrated p. 369
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et Catalogue raisonné, Lausanne & Paris, 1991, vol. V, no. 590, listed p. 35
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, no. 590, illustrated p. 228
David Joel, Monet at Vétheuil, 1878-1893, Prague, 2002, illustrated in colour p. 41
During his earlier stay Monet painted views of the church both from within the town itself, and from a greater distance. For many of these pictures, he ventured out in his studio-boat, which he loaded with his painting supplies for day-long excursions on the river. It was on one of these expeditions that the artist took anchor on the Île Saint-Martin la Garenne just as the sun was about to set over the water, to paint the present view. Describing this picture in his study of the artist's paintings of Vétheuil, David Joel places us in the very spot in which the artist most probably depicted the present scene: ‘Fin d'après-midi, Vétheuil, is catalogued as a view from the riverbank upstream of Lavacourt, but in reality it is painted from the east bank of the Île Saint-Martin. 'Les Tourelles' is to the left of the picture, the church dead centre, and between the two is a steam paddle-tug puffing white smoke over the top of Monet's house. On the shore of the island on which Monet's house can be seen, in the distance, two hayricks and the farm buildings of Île Saint-Martin. In the right foreground, quite close to the painter, is a small island which has long since been dredged away, for it would have seriously impeded barge traffic going down river to Vernon. The painting is dominantly warm, red and pink, contrasting with blue reflections for the sky and blue-tiled roofs of the village of Vétheuil, whilst the hills and farmland are yellow-green’ (D. Joel, op. cit., pp. 98-99).
Monet's paintings from Vétheuil evidence a critical development in the evolution of his style, when he began to strike out from the already established techniques of the early Impressionist style that he had perfected while living in Argenteuil in the 1870s. Many of these canvases strike a balance between the naturalist-realist origins of Impressionism and a boldly experimental approach to capturing the changing qualities of light. This small stretch of the Seine provided innumerable opportunities for Monet to observe the same, or similar, views in different seasons and at different times of day and to explore the resulting nuances of light and colour. Returning to the same stretch of river over a number of years allowed Monet to observe it in all its moods: capturing it bathed in the crisp, golden light of a warm afternoon as in the present work and the earlier Vétheuil (fig. 1) and by way of contrast, in the sombre, muted tones that he used to evoke the particularly harsh winter of 1879-80.
With regard to the artist's technique in the 1880s, Andrew Forge has written: ‘Colour which he now learned to use with an unprecedented purity offers and infinitely subtle and flexible alternative to the traditional massing of light and shade. Systems of interlocking blues and oranges, for example, of lilacs and lemons will carry the eye across the whole surface of the canvas and these colour structures, each marvellously turned to the particulars of light will be augmented by a vast range of accents of comma, slash, dot, flake, each attuned economically to its object that the eye is continually at work in its reading’ (A. Forge in, Claude Monet (exhibition catalogue), Acquavella Galleries, New York, 1976, n.p.).
One of the early owners of this work was Prince Kojiro Matsukata (1865-1950). A successful businessman, Matsukata was born in Japan but educated in the United States and devoted much of his life to building a collection of Western art, amassing a group of masterpieces that included works by Van Gogh, Cézanne and Monet, for whom he was an important patron. Although his plans to build a public museum of Western art had to be abandoned during the economic crisis of 1927, and much of his collection was dispersed, a group of works remained in France. These were subsequently given by the French government as a gift to the Japanese people and now form an important part of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.