Claude Monet (1840-1926)
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Claude Monet (1840-1926)

La maison dans les roses

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
La maison dans les roses
stamped with the signature 'Claude Monet' (Lugt 1819b; lower right)
oil on canvas
36¼ x 28¾ in. (92 x 73 cm.)
Painted in 1925
Michel Monet (the artist's son), Giverny.
Anonymous sale, Musée Galliéra, Paris, 5 June 1974, lot 58.
Galerie Melki, Paris, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Marc & Marianne Thomi-Hopff, by whom acquired from the above on 19 January 1976; their sale, Christie's, London, 23 June 2010, lot 21.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
T. Natanson, Peints à leur tour, Paris, 1948, pp. 39-40.
P. Valéry, Cahiers 11, Paris, 1974, pp. 948-949.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Peintures, 1899-1926, Lausanne, 1985, no. 1958, p. 312 (illustrated p. 313).
D. Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Cologne, 1996, no. 1958, pp. 941-942 (illustrated p. 940).
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Claude Monet, June - July 1931, no. 122.
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Paysages après l'impressionnisme,
September - November 1975, no. 51 (illustrated).
Basel, Kunstmuseum, Claude Monet, Nymphéas, July - October 1986, no. 63.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

'Giverny appears along the road, which passes through it; the village is pretty but somewhat characterless, being partly rural and partly middle-class. Suddenly, just as one has reached the end of the village and is about to proceed on toward Vernon-- not having been drawn by any desire to stop-- a new and extraordinary pageant greets us with the unexpectedness of all great surprises. Imagine every colour of a palette, all the tones of a fanfare. This is Monet's garden.
'Because it is longer than it is deep, and its length is parallel to the road, and the artist who created it closed it off with only a very low wall and a very plain gate - from either generosity or coquetry, or both - the passerby can enjoy nearly all of its splendour. Yet though the effect from the outside is dazzling enough, the sensation on entering is even more intense, even more surprising.
'The horticultural exhibitions held in the Tuileries gardens might give one an idea, but, while those brilliant beds last only four or five days, there is no rest for the flowers of the garden at Giverny. Everywhere you turn, at your feet, over your head, at chest height, are pools, festoons, hedges of flowers, their harmonies at once spontaneous and designed and renewed at every season...
'[You] find that you are in the domain of a master gardener' (A. Alexandre, quoted in D. Wildenstein, Monet or The Triumph of Impressionism, Cologne, 1996, p. 220).

Dating from the Summer of 1925, Claude Monet's La maison dans les roses presents the viewer with a rich explosion of colour. Fiery columns of red tower up the sides of the canvas while swaying fronds of green have been captured in a darting haze of brushstrokes in the foreground; meanwhile, the sky at the top of the picture is seen through a range of striations of rich lapis above the roof of Monet's own home at Giverny. This picture reveals Monet's sheer exuberance, as he revels in putting bold, expressionist colours on the canvas. This results in a searing vision that, in the combination of its intense palette and the incredible sense of movement conveyed by the continuous traces of the artist's movement, appears to prefigure the Abstract Expressionism that would ascend two decades later, be it the action paintings of Jackson Pollock or the rich, abstract compositions of Sam Francis.

La maison dans les roses forms a part of a small group of paintings that Monet created during the Summer of 1925 which focussed not only on his garden, but also on his home within it. In La maison dans les roses, this is shown in the distance, surrounded by the effervescent curtains of red foliage that tumble down each side of the picture. Several of the pictures from this group share vantage points and other features, yet as was always the case with Monet's serial explorations of a motif, each is a variation. Indeed, several of the pictures have different formats: while the composition of La maison dans les roses echoes that of a similar work in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, the present picture has a more intense and electric palette. Meanwhile, both appear different from a view now in the Musée Marmottan, Paris, where the house is framed by banks of greenery, rather than the incandescent flowers of La maison dans les roses.

Monet's energy is palpable in the rippling brushwork that lends such vitality to this painting; this perfectly complements the electric intensity of the colours. Hearing that his friend was painting with such vigour during the Summer of 1925, the former Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau, wrote encouragingly to Monet: 'My dear son, since you have hold of happiness, hold on to it. Work. Let no one bother you. Make masterpieces. I shan't complain if you do' (Clemenceau, quoted in D. Wildenstein, Monet or The Triumph of Impressionism, Cologne, 1996, p. 440). Clemenceau had played such a crucial part in steering France through the First World War and also in organising what has become perhaps Monet's greatest legacy, the frieze of water-lilies now housed in the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, and clearly retained a fond and firm bond with the Impressionist master. Looking at his letter, it is clear that he had been informed of the passion with which Monet was painting La maison dans les roses and its fellows. Looking at this picture, it is easy to see why Daniel Wildenstein would describe La maison dans les roses and its sister pictures as a 'swan song, a marvellous farewell to his house and his roses' (ibid., p. 442).

Monet had initially moved to Giverny in 1883, renting a house there. Within some time, he had been able to acquire the house and then an increasing amount of the surrounding land, which he sculpted into an incredible pleasure garden. Where formerly, Monet had travelled far and wide in search for his Impressionist motifs, now he created a garden which itself would provide views for him. He arranged for a constant parade of colours to unfurl before him, a feat that won the admiration of many of his contemporaries. Arsène Alexandre would note of Monet: 'He also wants, perhaps above all, his flower palette before him to look at all year round, always present, but always changing. Everything is designed in such a way that the celebration is everywhere renewed and ceaselessly replaced. If a certain flower bed is stilled in a certain season, borders and hedges will suddenly light up... This last helps to describe the master's creation; the effect is explosive and joyful, and every effect is planned' (A. Alexandre, quoted in ibid., p. 221).

This is more than evident in the flaming reds that dominate so much of La maison dans les roses. 'Gardening and painting apart, I'm no good at anything,' Monet would self-deprecatingly claim (Monet, quoted in ibid., p. 368). Looking at La maison dans les roses, it is clear to what extent he excelled in both of those fields.

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