Claude Monet (1840-1926)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property of a Private Collection
Claude Monet (1840-1926)

La maison de l'artiste à Giverny

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
La maison de l'artiste à Giverny
signed and dated 'Claude Monet 1912' (lower left)
oil on canvas
29 x 29 in. (73.5 x 73.5 cm.)
Painted in 1912
The artist; sale, Galerie Manzi, Joyant & Cie., Paris, 21 February 1920, lot 78.
Dr. and Mrs. Gosset, Paris (acquired at the above sale); sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 12 June 1930, lot 54.
François Estier, Paris; Estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 5 December 1940, lot 33.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owner.
"Les ventes futures: La vente du Salon d'automne" in Bulletin de la vie artistique, 1 February 1920, p. 144 (illustrated).
"La curiosité: La vente du Salon d'automne" in Bulletin de la vie artistique, 1 April 1920, pp. 250-251.
"Chronique des ventes" in Gazette de l'Hôtel Drouot, 24 February 1920.
"Revue des ventes" in Le Journal des Arts, 25 February 1920, p. 2.
S. Gwynn, Claude Monet and His Garden: The Story of an Artist's Paradise, London, 1934, p. 113 (illustrated).
L. Venturi, Les archives de l'impressionisme, New York, 1939, vol. I, p. 455, letter 391.
M. Malingue, Claude Monet, Paris, 1943, p. 148 (illustrated, p. 143).
O. Reuterswärd, Monet: En konstnärshistorik, Stockholm, 1948, p. 263 (illustrated, fig. 126).
J. Isaacson, Claude Monet: Observation and Reflection, Oxford, 1978, pp. 171 and 227, no. 125 (illustrated, p. 170; dated circa 1902).
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1985, vol. IV, p. 248, no. 1777; p. 385, letter 2022; p. 404, letters 2331 and 2336; p. 431, doc. 293 (illustrated, p. 249).
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. IV, p. 836, no. 1777 (illustrated, p. 834).
Special notice
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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

In the late summer of 1912, Monet set up his easel just outside the pink stucco house at Giverny that had been his home for nearly three decades and painted a pair of canvases that depict the sprawling, two-story structure almost entirely engulfed in the luxuriant vegetation of his flower garden. In the present painting, measuring 29 inches (73 cm.) square, the pink roses in the foreground are in peak bloom; a second version, the same height but horizontal in format, appears to have been painted a bit later in the season(Wildenstein, no. 1778; Private collection). Teeming with vital growth, these works represented for Monet a triumphant, life-affirming return to painting after a three-year period of manifold sorrows—most tragically, the death of his beloved wife Alice—and consequent inactivity. “This view of his home, painted from the garden, shows that even if there had been a ‘re-apprenticeship’, it was most successful,” Daniel Wildenstein wrote (op. cit., 1996, p. 837).
The artist’s flower garden at Giverny occupied some two acres of land in front of his house, on a gentle, south-facing slope leading down to the main regional road between Vernon and Gasny. The previous occupants of the house, where Monet and his family moved 1883, had planted fruit trees and vegetable plots in the fertile soil. When the property came up for sale in 1890, the artist—an enthusiastic gardener all his life—purchased it at the asking price and immediately pulled up the kitchen garden to make way for flowers. During the ensuing years, he spared neither time nor expense to transform the acreage into a paradise of vivid color and heady fragrance, contrasting by design with the hushed, mysterious water garden that he cultivated simultaneously on an adjacent parcel of land across the road.
“There is no rest for the flowers of the garden at Giverny,” wrote Arsène Alexandre following a visit with Monet and Alice in 1901. “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 can set your imagination free and picture yourself as a Parsifal, helpless in the intoxicating wiles of the Flower Maidens, or, among the flaming spears of gladioli, that you are a Siegfried about to discover the sleeping Valkyrie amidst the dazzling profusion” (quoted in C. Stuckey, Monet, A Retrospective, New York, 1985, p. 220).
In the present painting, Monet captured this very effect of immersive abundance. Nearly the entire surface of the canvas is given over to vegetation, with churning eddies of pigment offering a visual and tactile analogue for the profusion of foliage and flowers that filled the garden. In the foreground are beds of roses, geraniums, and sage, which merge with the dense layer of Virginia creeper and clematis that partially covers the façade of the house. The great mass of vegetation at the right represents the two towering trees that stood immediately outside the main entrance of the residence, marking the terminus of the central allée. “The various forms of foliage surge and swirl as if competing for prominence in the scene,” Paul Tucker has written, “while the house peers into the fray from behind the tangled brushwork like an inquisitive spectator” (Monet in the 20th Century, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1998, p. 58).
When Monet picked up his brushes in 1912 to render this floral fantasia, he had done no new painting since the exhibition of his visionary Nymphéas series in May 1909. Alice took ill in February 1910 and died on 19 May 1911; Monet was shattered and considered abandoning art altogether. In October, though, he resumed work on the views of Venice that he had begun three years earlier—“souvenirs of such happy days passed with my dear Alice,” he told the Bernheim brothers, who exhibited the completed series in May-June 1912 (quoted in ibid., p. 57). That summer, Monet received another blow when he was diagnosed with cataracts. “The doctor did not forbid my continuing to paint,” he wrote to Durand-Ruel in August, “and if the weather finally wants to improve, I will once again bravely take up working, which more than ever is what I need” (quoted in P. Tucker, Claude Monet: Life and Art, New Haven, 1995, p. 201).
Monet painted the present canvas soon thereafter, on a brilliantly sunny day under clear blue skies. The choice of his own home as a subject for painting surely held profound significance for him at this moment—it was here that he and Alice had spent nearly the whole of their three decades together, first as partners and then as husband and wife. He may also have had in mind the four paintings that he made in 1881 of his house and garden at Vétheuil, where he and Alice began their shared journey (Wildenstein, nos. 682-685). In the present canvas, the vigorous, gestural skeins of paint simultaneously reflect and amplify the emotional resonance of the scene, expressing Monet’s intuitive, subjective response to this intensely personal motif.
In the year and a half after he painted La maison de l’artiste, further tragedies befell Monet and kept him from his art. The prospect that he would need eye surgery weighed heavily on him; his elder son Jean succumbed to syphilis on 9 February 1914, and his younger son Michel had an emergency, life-saving operation the next month. Only three canvases by Monet are known to date from this period, all depicting the rose-covered pergola in the water garden (Wildenstein, nos. 1779-1781). It was not until late April 1914, as Europe steeled for cataclysmic conflict, that a creative urgency—a burning desire to respond to the formidable historical moment—suddenly superseded Monet’s deeply felt, individual travails. The present painting is a harbinger of the untrammeled outpouring of creativity that followed from this moment, in which the artist’s own gardens became a pictorial repository for his most powerful emotions and ideals.
Monet retained La maison de lartiste in his studio until 1920, when it was purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Gosset—perhaps the same Gosset who is said to have stitched up the great Georges Clemenceau after he got into a car accident while returning from a consultation with Monet’s eye doctor (D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1996, p. 430). In 1922-1924, Monet reprised the present viewpoint in the very last, independent series of his career—“a swan song,” Wildenstein wrote, “a marvelous farewell to his house and his roses” (ibid., p. 442; nos. 1944-1951). The present canvas was acquired by the family of the present owner in 1940 and has never again changed hands on the market.

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