CLAUDE MONETLe Port de Zaandam
- Claude Monet
- Le Port de Zaandam
- signed Claude Monet (lower left)
- oil on canvas
Galerie Manzi, Paris (acquired from the above on 3rd May 1892)
Collection Bergaud, France
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris
Adolphe Tavernier, Paris (acquired by 1899. Sold: Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Adolphe Tavernier, 6th March 1900, lot 57)
Paul Rosenberg, Paris
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above on 26th February 1902)
Paul Cassirer, Berlin (acquired from the above on 5th February 1903)
Dr Ernst Spiegelberg, New York
Justin K. Thannhauser, Berlin & New York (on commission from the above)
Wildenstein Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in March 1948)
Wildenstein & Co Ltd., London (acquired from the above)
Mr & Mrs Guerlain, Paris (acquired from the above in December 1951)
Sale: Christie’s, London, 3rd December 1974, lot 48
Sale: Sotheby’s, New York, 16th November 1983, lot 15
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Edinburgh, The Royal Scottish Academy, Claude Monet, 1957, no. 26, illustrated in the catalogue (titled View of Zaandam)
London, The Lefevre Gallery, Claude Monet: The Early Years, 1969, no. 7, illustrated in the catalogue
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Impressionism, 1974, no. 69
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Monet in Holland, 1986-87, no. 1, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum & San Francisco, The Legion of Honor, Monet, The Early Years, 2016-17, no. 45, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Vittorio Pica, Gl’Impressionisti francesi, Bergamo, 1908, illustrated p. 67 (titled Marina olandese)
Frans Mars, Claude Monet: Zaandam 150 Jaar Stad, 1962, illustrated pp. 329-330
Yvon Taillandier, Monet, Paris, 1963, illustrated p. 45 (titled Marina, Olanda)
Luigina Rossi Bortolatto, L’Opera completa di Claude Monet, Milan, 1966, no. 48, illustrated p. 91 (titled Marina olandese)
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne & Paris, 1974, vol. I, no. 188, illustrated p. 201
Luigina Rossi Bortolatto & Janine Bailly-Herzberg, Tout l’œuvre peint de Monet, Paris, 1981, no. 56, illustrated p. 92
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, no. 188, listed p. 25
Paul Hayes Tucker, Claude Monet, Life and Art, New Haven & London, 1995, no. 60, illustrated in colour p. 50
Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol II, no. 188, illustrated p. 86
Claude Monet, in a letter to Camille Pissarro, 17th June 1871
Painted in 1871, Le Port de Zaandam is a rare and particularly striking example of Monet’s early Impressionist painting. A powerful and evocative depiction of the port of Zaandam in Holland, it exemplifies his innovative approach to the expressive qualities of painting, using loaded brushstrokes and pure colour tones to convey a powerful sense of time and place.
In the autumn of 1870, the escalating Franco-Prussian war forced Monet and his young family to seek safety first in England and then eventually in Holland. On 2nd June 1871 Monet wrote to his friend Camille Pissarro: ‘We have finally arrived at the end of our journey, after a rather unpleasant crossing. We traversed almost the whole length of Holland, and to be sure, what I saw of it seemed far more beautiful than it is said to be. Zaandam is particularly remarkable and there is enough to paint there for a lifetime,’ and again on the 17th: ‘It is marvellous for painting here; there is everything you can find de plus amusant. Houses of all colours, hundreds of windmills and ravishing boats (…) and with all this very fine weather, I already have several canvases on the go’ (quoted in Monet in Holland (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 99).
The Monet family lived in Zaandam for four months over the summer of 1871. The town was famous for its many mills which performed myriad functions; crushing, pumping, sawing and turning every conceivable material. Whilst his wife Camille gave French conversation lessons to the wealthy Van de Stadt family, her husband concentrated on his art. Relatively free of financial worries due to a small inheritance from his late father, Monet produced a number of pictures of the town and its environs in a boldly inventive style.
Once settled, Monet worked systematically through a series of twenty-five views that explored several areas within and surrounding Zaandam (figs. 1 & 2). For the most part the artist focused his attention upon the archetypical motifs of the Dutch landscape, canals, mills and boats, exploring Holland’s unique environment. Discussing Monet’s achievements in Holland Ronald Pickvance wrote: ‘Monet captures the Dutchness, not merely externally – of fishing boat and windmill, town house and luchthuis, river and canal – but also the delicate enveloping light and atmosphere, subtly different from the Ile de France. The superb manner in which he registers the immense and often changing Dutch skies is sufficient proof of this’ (R. Pickvance in ibid, p. 101).
Le Port de Zaandam is one of a group of four works that take the port of Zaandam as their subject and was probably painted from the balcony of Monet’s room at the De Beurs Hotel which afforded him a view of the port and its environs. Discussing these works, Marianne Alphant writes: ‘Four paintings show the port from different angles – in the boats moored in the peaceful dammed water along the quays, the only sign of life is the weathervanes and the narrow flags flapping gently atop the masts. What interested the painter here is strangely akin to the drawings and paintings he did at Honfleur alongside Jongkind: two bands of moving elements are separated by a motionless alignment of houses. Above are the changing sky and clouds, and below, the complex world of reflections’ (M. Alphant, Claude Monet in Holland, Paris, 1994, pp. 33-34). In Le Port de Zaandam, Monet emphasises this element of the composition, with the rich pinks and yellows of the setting sun mirrored in the water below. The striking silhouettes of the moorings and the pennants flying in the evening breeze are particularly expressive and illustrate the profound impact that this setting had on the artist. As Alphant writes: ‘This was water country. The painter was stimulated by this fluid landscape and the light that rose upwards as though all the intensity of visible things had been absorbed into its reflection; he spent more than three months, in a constant state of euphoria, exploring this amazing universe’ (ibid., p. 34).