Dr Albert Charpentier, Paris (sold: Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 30th March 1954, lot 4)
Sale: Christie's, New York, 16th May 1990, lot 108
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
The artist delighted in the wide-ranging conditions of the banks along the Thames, varying from luminescent sunrises to the atmosphere of dense fog and industrial pollution caused by the smokestacks. Though he worked on a number of oils of Waterloo Bridge when he was back home in Giverny, Monet specifically chose to work in pastel for his en-plein-air compositions as it enabled maximum agility to capture the fleeting and wildly fluctuating variety of scenes. The artist commented in a letter to his wife Alice: ‘The weather was magnificent but unsettled… I can’t begin to describe a day as wonderful as this. One marvel after another, each lasting less than five minutes, it was enough to drive one mad. No country could be more extraordinary for a painter’ (quoted in Turner, Whistler, Monet (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 2004, p. 181).
British artists J.M.W. Turner and James McNeill Whistler had a profound influence on Monet’s paintings of the Thames. Before him, they had succeeded in shifting the focus away from the traditional treatment of landscape with its detail-orientated aesthetic - evidenced in works such as those by John Constable - towards the depiction of the ephemeral impression of atmosphere, something which had a lasting effect on Monet (see figs. 1 and 2). In turn, Monet’s innovative and abstracted aesthetic, as demonstrated in paintings such as Waterloo Bridge, are among the most important contributions to twentieth-century art and create a lasting legacy that can be seen not only in the work of his immediate artistic contemporaries but in the experiments of the Abstract Expressionists almost half a century later.
The overwhelming majority of Monet’s depictions of Waterloo Bridge are now in public collections around the world, including The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin; The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; The Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Hermitage St. Petersburg and The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (fig. 3). The rarity and desirability of this series is demonstrated in the illustrious provenance of the present work. Waterloo Bridge was purchased in 1990 by Bernard and Josephine Chaus. Remembered as extraordinary entrepreneurs, Bernard and Josephine made a lasting mark on the fashion industry, championing the innovative concept of reasonably-priced women’s sportswear. Josephine served as one of the first female chief executive officers of a public company. The couple are remembered today for their passion and resilience and celebrated as inspirations by the fashion industry and all those who knew them.
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