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    Sale 1900

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    6 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 9

    Claude Monet (1840-1926)

    Falaise à Pourville

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Claude Monet (1840-1926)
    Falaise à Pourville
    signed and dated 'Claude Monet 96' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    25 7/8 x 39 5/8 in. (65.7 x 100.6 cm.)
    Painted in 1896


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    In February of 1896, Monet returned to the Normandy coast for the first time in ten years. He left Giverny for Pourville, a seaside village about halfway between Fécamp and Dieppe, "to gain strength from the sea air" as he told the dealer Maurice Joyant (quoted in H. Lemonedes et al, Monet in Normandy, San Francisco, 2006, p. 156). Monet revisited many of the sites that he had painted on his annual campaigns along the coast between 1880 and 1886, including Pourville, Varengeville, Etretat, and Dieppe. He sought to express the towering cliffs and sprawling beaches that he had captured numerous times before in order "to resume in one or two canvases my past impressions and sensations," as he told one interviewer (ibid.). Writing to Durand-Ruel from Pourville, Monet remarked, "I needed to see the sea again and am enchanted to see again so many things I made fifteen years ago. And so I have set to work with ardor" (ibid.).

    Forced to switch towns and paintings with the whims of the fickle midwinter weather, Monet passed six and a half weeks depicting sites along the coast between Pourville and Varengeville. The present painting depicts one of Pourville's striated limestone cliffs as viewed from the beach. The flecks of pink, purple, and blue in this work suggest the diffuse sunshine of a bright yet overcast day. Although plagued by storms, Monet wrote to Durand-Ruel from Giverny that he was "driven from Pourville by an impossible weather, but very pleased to have gone there and intend to return there to pass the next winter" (ibid.).

    Monet's coastal landscapes from 1896-97 have often been compared with a group of landscapes that Edgar Degas exhibited at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in the autumn of 1892. These colored monotypes, which he heightened with pastel, depict simple views of the Norman coastline without figures or identifiable buildings (fig. 1). The softly blurred, generalized forms of these works focus attention on color and form so that the depicted scene transcends the details of literal representation. Degas' focus on abstract form and light likely spoke to Monet, who had spent the early 1890s painting series of grain stacks in a field near Giverny as well as the fagade of Rouen cathedral. The softly luminous appearance of Monet's paintings from 1896-97 reflect the painter's shifting artistic concerns and growing interest in the expressive qualities of tone, hue, and touch. He would push these qualities to the limits of representation in scenes of his garden at Giverny. Commenting on the artistic import of Monet's coastal views from this period, Richard Bretell has written: "Indeed, Normandy, that place in which Monet's career as a modern artist had incubated, had transformed itself through the example of Degas into a pictorial scaffolding for his experiments with what critics then called "pure" color, paint, and light. Monet retreated further and further from locative reality into memory and imagination, and his final Norman retreat took him from the landscape itself into his own garden" (in ibid., pp. 38-39).

    (fig. 1) Edgar Degas, Côte Rocheuse, c.1890-92. Private collection. BARCODE 25010435

    Provenance

    Boussod, Valadon et Cie., Paris; sale, American Art Association, New York, 3 March 1902, lot 161.
    Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired at the above sale).
    Elizabeth W. Perkins, Boston (acquired from the above, 19 March 1904).
    Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the Estate of the above, 4 March 1929).
    Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. McVeigh, New York (acquired from the above, 18 May 1931).
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (gift from the above, 1961); sale, Christie's, New York, 10 May 1989, lot 42.
    Acquavella Galleries, New York (acquired at the above sale).
    Acquired from the above by the late owner, circa 1990.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from a Private American Collection


    Literature

    "À la galerie Georges Petit," in Supplement au Journal le Gaulois, 16 June 1898, p. 3 (illustrated).
    T. Duret, Histoire des peintres impressionnistes, Paris, 1906, p. 87 (illustrated).
    C. Sterling and M.M. Salinger, French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1967, vol. III, p. 140 (illustrated).
    D. Cooper, "The Monets in the Metropolitan Museum," in Metropolitan Museum Journal, 1970, vol. III, p. 303 (illustrated, p. 296).
    D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet, biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1974, vol. III, p. 192, no. 1421 (illustrated, p. 193).
    D. Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. III, pp. 588-589, no. 1421 (illustrated in color).


    Exhibited

    Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Claude Monet, June-July 1898, no. 16.
    Boston, Copley Hall, Monet-Rodin, March 1905, no. 65.
    Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Claude Monet Memorial Exhibition, January-February 1927, no. 29.