Lot 23
  • 23

Claude Monet

12,000,000 - 18,000,000 GBP
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  • Claude Monet
  • Le Palais Ducal vu de Saint-Georges Majeur
  • signed Claude Monet and dated 1908 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 65 by 100cm.
  • 25 1/2 by 39 1/2 in.


Galerie Bernheim-Jeune & Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (jointly acquired from the artist on 15th May 1912)

Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired solely on 6th June 1912)

Private Collection, France (by descent from the above circa 1967)

Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired in 1998)

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Claude Monet, Venise, 1912, no. 15

New York, Durand-Ruel Gallery, Monet, Venise,  1913

Boston, Brooks Reed Gallery, Tableaux Durand-Ruel, 1913

Boston, Brooks Reed Gallery, Tableaux Durand-Ruel, 1914

Saint Louis, Noonan-Kocian Gallery, Tableaux Durand-Ruel, 1914

Venice, XVIII Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, 1932, no. 8

Paris, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Monet, œuvres de 1891 à 1919, 1936, no. 29

Venice, Gli Impressionisti alla XXIV Biennale di Venezia, 1948, no. 10, illustrated in the catalogue

Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Capolavori della pittura dell' ottocento francese, 1955, no. 77, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition Claude Monet, 1959, no. 57

Turin, Galleria civica d' Arte Moderna, L'Italia vista dei pittori Francesi, 1961, no. 230, illustrated in the catalogue

Schaffhausen, Museums zu Allerheiligen, Die Welt des Impressionismus, 1963, no. 80, illustrated in the catalogue

Recklinghausen, Stadtische Kunsthalle, Zauber des Lichtes, 1967, no. 126, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Claude Monet, 1970, no. 48, illustrated in the catalogue

Hamburg, Kunstverein, Französische Impressionisten: Hommage à Durand-Ruel, 1970-71, no. 28, illustrated in the catalogue

Tokyo, Seibu Museum; Kyoto, Municipal Museum & Fukuoka, Cultural Centre, Claude Monet, 1973, no. 59

Paris, Grand Palais, Hommage à Claude Monet, 1980, no. 115, illustrated in the catalogue

Treviso, Casa dei Carraresi, Monet - I luoghi della pittura, 2001-02, no. 81, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Hiroshima, Prefectural Art Museum & Tokyo, The Bunkamura Museum of Art Monet and Renoir: Two Great Impressionist Trends, 2003, no. 14, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Venice: From Canaletto and Turner to Monet, 2008, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

London, Helly Nahmad Gallery, Monet, 2009, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Zurich, Kunsthaus, Miró, Monet, Matisse - The Nahmad Collection, 2011-12, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Sète, Musée Paul Valéry, Collection David et Ezra Nahmad: Impressionnisme et Audaces du XIXème Siècle, 2013, no. 20, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Arsène Alexandre, ‘La vie artistique, Claude Monet et Venise’, in Le Figaro, 29th May 1912, mentioned p. 4

Gustave Geffroy, ‘La Venise de Claude Monet’, in La Dépêche, 30th May 1912, mentioned p. 1

Henri Genet, ‘Beaux-Arts et Curiosité: Les 'Venise' de Claude Monet’, in L'Opinion, 1st June 1912, mentioned p. 698

Georges Lecomte, ‘Un radieux poème à la gloire de Venise’, in Le Matin, 3rd June 1912, mentioned p. 6

André Michel, ‘Promenade aux Salons VI’, in Journal des Débats, 5th June 1912, mentioned p. 1

‘Art et Curiosité: Venise vue par Claude Monet’, in Le Temps, 11th June 1912, mentioned p. 4

‘Vision d'art: Venise par Claude Monet’, in Le Gaulois, 14th June 1912, mentioned p. 1

Henri Gheon, ‘A travers les expositions: Claude Monet’, in Art décoratif (supplément), 20th June 1912, mentioned pp. 4-6

‘Art et Curiosité: Venise vue par Claude Monet’, in Le Temps, 11th July 1912

François Fosca, Claude Monet, Paris, 1927, illustrated in colour p. 65

‘XXIVe Biennale de Venise’, in Emporium, July-August 1948, illustrated p. 9

René Jullian, ‘Les Impressionnistes français et l'Italie’, in Publications de l'Institut français de Florence, 1968, no. II-11, illustrated pp. 19 & 31

Nicola Ivanoff, ‘Proust et Venise’, in L'Œil, August-September 1973, nos. 217-218, fig. 12, illustrated p. 27

Sabine Cotte, Monet, Paris, 1974, fig. 36, illustrated p. 51

Grace Seiberling, Monet's Series, New York, 1981, no. 10, pp. 210 & 379

Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne & Paris, 1985, vol. IV, no. 1752, illustrated p. 239; mentioned in letter no. 2012a; mentioned p. 430, pièce justificative, no. 240

Philippe Piguet, Monet et Venise, Paris, 1986, no. 12, illustrated p. 79

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet. Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. IV, no. 1752, illustrated in colour p. 819

Monet and the Mediterranean (exhibition catalogue), The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, 1997-98, illustrated p. 152

Catalogue Note

Monet’s spectacular view of the Palazzo Ducale on the Grand Canal belongs to the extraordinary series he completed in Venice in the fall of 1908. Painted from the south-east vantage of a floating pontoon, the scene depicts the Palace, with its Byzantine fenestrations adorning the façade, alongside the Ponte della Paglia and the prison building on the right. To the left of the palace is the entrance to Saint Mark’s square, and the silhouette of the bell tower and can be seen in the open space. Through a Renaissance-inspired sfumato technique Monet conjures the briny mist of the Adriatic, and the oblique pontoon and moorings convey the lulling motion of its current.  

Monet and his wife Alice traveled to Venice for the first time in the autumn of 1908 at the invitation of Mary Young Hunter, a wealthy American who had been introduced to the Monets by John Singer Sargent. They arrived on 1st October and spent two weeks as her guest at the Palazzo Barbaro, which belonged to a relation of Sargent - Mrs Daniel Sargent Curtis, before moving to the Grand Hotel Britannia on the Grand Canal where they stayed until their departure on 7th December. From the balcony of the Palazzo Barbaro, they could see three of the great palaces Monet was to paint during his time in Venice: Palazzo da Mula, Palazzo Dario and the Palazzo Contarini. He then relocated to the Grand Hotel Britannia, which provided him with views of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Palazzo Ducale. Initially reluctant to leave his house and garden at Giverny, Monet must have sensed that the architectural splendours of Venice in their watery environment would present new and formidable challenges. His first days in Venice seemed only to confirm his initial fears but after several days of his customary discouragement, he commenced work on 7th October. In his study of Monet's work and the Mediterranean, Joachim Pissarro has given a detailed account of Monet's working schedule while he was in Venice:

‘After so much procrastination, Monet soon adopted a rigorous schedule in Venice. Alice’s description of his work day establishes that from the very inception of his Venetian campaign, Monet organized his time and conceived of the seriality of his work very differently from his previous projects. In Venice, Monet divided his daily schedule into periods of approximately two hours, undertaken at the same time every day and on the same given motif. Unlike his usual methods of charting the changes of time and light as the course of the day would progress, here Monet was interested in painting his different motifs under exactly the same conditions. One could say that he had a fixed appointment with his motifs at the same time each day. The implication of this decision is very simple; for Monet in Venice, time was not to be one of the factors of variations for his motifs. Rather, it was the 'air', or what he called 'the envelope' - the surrounding atmospheric conditions, the famous Venetian haze - that became the principal factor of variation with these motifs’ (J. Pissarro, Monet and the Mediterranean, New York, 1977, p. 50).

Discussing the Venetian paintings of 1908 Gustave Geffroy attempted to define the approach Monet took to his depictions of the city, in particular making a study of the artist’s repeated portrayal of certain motifs: ‘It is no longer the minutely detailed approach to Venice that the old masters saw in its new and robust beauty, nor the decadent picturesque Venice of the 18th century painters; it is a Venice glimpsed simultaneously from the freshest and most knowledgeable perspective, one which adorns the ancient stones with the eternal and changing finery of the hours of the day’. Monet’s Venetian canvases transported Geffroy: ‘in front of this Venice in which the ten century old setting takes on a melancholic and mysterious aspect under the luminous veils which envelop it. The lapping water ebbs and flows, passing back and forth around the palazzo, as if to dissolve these vestiges of history… The magnificence of nature only reigns supreme in those parts of the landscape from which the bustling city of pleasure can be seen from far enough away that one can believe in the fantasy of the lifeless city lying in the sun’ (G. Geffroy, Claude Monet, sa vie, son temps, son œuvre, Paris, 1924, pp. 318 & 320).

Matisse is recorded to have noted: ‘it seemed to me that Turner must have been the link between the academic tradition and impressionism’ (quoted in Turner, Whistler, Monet (exhibition catalogue), Tate Britain, London, 2005, p. 203) and divined a special connection between Turner’s works and Monet’s. Writing in the catalogue for the Turner, Whistler, Monet exhibition, Katherin Lochnan pinpoints the Venice pictures as the culmination of Monet’s discourse with those two painters: ‘These beautiful and poetic works are portals through which the viewer can enter a world of memories, reveries and dreams. Fearing that they might constitute the final chapter in his artistic evolution, Monet sounded in them the last notes of his artistic dialogue with Turner and Whistler that had been central to his artistic development’ (K. Lochnan in ibid. p. 35).


In Venice Monet continued to observe, as he had in the views of the river Thames he completed in 1904, how light reflected off a wide stretch of water dissolves and liquefies the solid, uneven surfaces of stone walls. In Venice, however, the closeness of the buildings to the water's edge led him to explore more abstract compositions, accentuating the interplay between the rhythms of the ornate façade, with its arched openings and horizontal divisions, and the rhythmic expanse of water. The glorious late canvases that Turner produced in the early 1840s, such as Venice, The Bridge of Sighs (fig. 5), presents a Venice which is transfigured by light. Similarly in the present work Monet has suffused the very bricks and mortar with amethyst, gold and rose pinks. In his introduction to the Bernheim-Jeune exhibition, Octave Mirbeau observed that the atmosphere in Monet's views of Venetian palaces was ‘mixed with colour as though it had passed through a stained-glass window’ (O. Mirbeau, quoted in ibid., p. 206).

During the course of his stay Monet painted thirty-seven canvases of Venetian subjects, which depicted views of the Grand Canal, San Giorgio Maggiore, the Rio della Salute; the Palazzos Daria, Mula, Contarini and the Doge’s Palace. On 19th December 1908, a few days after Monet’s return to Paris, Bernheim-Jeune acquired twenty-eight of the thirty-seven views of Venice although Monet kept the pictures in his studio until 1912 to give them their finishing touches. After the death of Alice in 1911, Monet finally agreed on a date for the exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune. Claude Monet Venise opened on 28th May 1912 and was greeted with considerable critical acclaim, not least by Paul Signac who viewed the Venetian canvases as one of Monet’s greatest achievements. Writing to Monet he states: ‘When I looked at your Venice paintings with their admirable interpretation of the motifs I know so well, I experienced a deep emotion, as strong as the one I felt in 1879 when confronted by your train stations, your streets hung with flags, your trees in bloom, a moment that was decisive for my future career. And these Venetian pictures are stronger still, where everything supports the expression of your vision, where no detail undermines the emotional impact, where you have attained the selflessness advocated by Delacroix. I admire them as the highest manifestations of your art’ (P. Signac quoted in Turner, Whistler, Monet (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 207).