Lot 11
  • 11

CLAUDE MONET | Citrons sur une branche

2,500,000 - 3,500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Claude Monet
  • Citrons sur une branche
  • signed Claude Monet and dated 84 (upper right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 65.5 by 54.3cm.
  • 25 3/4 by 21 3/8 in.
  • Painted in 1884.


Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist by 1888) Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above in 1914)

Annie Swan Coburn, Chicago (acquired from the above on 4th January 1930)

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (a donation from the above in 1933. Sold: Parke Bernet, New York, 2nd March 1944, lot 53)

Baronne Cassel van Doorn (acquired circa 1947)

Christiane Cassel, Santiago (by descent from the above)

Mr & Mrs Albert J. Dreitzer, United States (acquired circa 1972. Sold: Sotheby’s, New York, The Albert J. Dreitzer Collection, 13th November 1985, lot 16)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


(probably) New York, American Art Galleries & National Academy of Design, Works in Oil and Pastel by the Impressionists of Paris, 1886, no. 205 Berlin, Paul Cassirer, Ausstellung VIII. Jahrgang, 1905, no. 33

London, Grafton Galleries, Pictures by Boudin, Manet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Morisot, Sisley, 1905, no. 105

Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition de Natures mortes par Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, A. André, d'Espagnat, 1908, no. 10

Vienna, Galerie Miethke, Manet-Monet, 1910, no. 18

New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Claude Monet, 1915, no. 2

New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Still Life and Flower Pieces, 1923, no. 14

New York, Acquavella Galleries, Inc., Claude Monet, 1976, no. 43, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Les Citrons)


Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne & Paris, 1979, vol. II, no. 888, illustrated p. 127; mentioned in letters nos. 471 & 473, p. 249 Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris & Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, mentioned p. 41

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, no. 888, illustrated p. 331

Looking at Monet. The Great Impressionist and His Influence on Austrian Art (exhibition catalogue), Belvedere, Vienna, 2014-15, illustrated in colour p. 162

Catalogue Note

This vibrant depiction of a branch of lemons was painted at Bordighera on the Italian Riviera, near the end of Monet’s visit there, which lasted from late January to early April 1884. Having accompanied his friend Pierre-Auguste Renoir on a short trip to the region the year before, Monet returned alone in order to be able to concentrate on his painting. He worked with great zest and in a letter to his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel he wrote: 'I am certain that I will bring back interesting things, for everywhere all is beauty and the weather is superb' (quoted in Monet and the Mediterranean (exhibition catalogue), Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1997, p. 30). The delight Monet found on the region is also evident in letters he wrote to his companion, Alice Hoschedé, and he refers to his work on the present composition in two letters to her: ‘At the moment I am spending all of my time painting still-lifes [...]; today I turn my hand to lemons’ (quoted in D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1979, letter no. 471, p. 249, translated from French).  

Monet executed far fewer still-lifes than landscapes throughout his career, and it is interesting to note the artist's ability to adapt his technique, developed through painting en plein-air, to a different genre. He painted the present work with careful attention to the rendering of the effects of light, and created a dynamic composition by casting bright light from the right of the composition, which casts vivid purple shadows of the subject on the blue backdrop. The glowing light sets the foliage ablaze in yellow and encircles the lemons with delicate pinkish hues. Monet combines this natural display with quick, fluid brushstrokes that lend the painting freshness and a remarkable sense of spontaneity. 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).

The subject of a still-life would certainly have appealed to the artist and he often returned to it throughout his career, in between working on his landscapes. In the late 1870s and early 1880s, both Monet and Renoir painted still-lifes, a subject that was most readily saleable, and therefore provided a secure source of income to both artists. Monet exhibited several still-lifes during the Impressionist exhibitions of the late 1870s; and it was largely due to the artist’s success in these exhibitions that Durand-Ruel began to buy his paintings regularly, which eventually led him to commission a unique group of works for his own grand salon.

Citrons sur une branche was acquired from Monet by Durand-Ruel, who included the work in several important early Impressionist exhibitions, among them the now legendary exhibition of Impressionist painters organised by Durand-Ruel in London’s Grafton Galleries (fig. 1). It was later sold to the prominent American art collector Annie Swan Coburn and was part of her generous donation to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1933.