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Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
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Property from the Estate of Mrs. Henry Ford II
Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Champ de tulipes près de Leyde

Details
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Champ de tulipes près de Leyde
signed and dated 'Claude Monet 86' (lower right)
oil on canvas
23 5/8 x 28 7/8 in. (60 x 73.3 cm.)
Painted in 1886.
Provenance
Baron d'Estournelles de Constant, Paris (by 1889).
Mrs. Potter Palmer, Chicago.
Howard Young Galleries, New York (by 1922).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 15 October 1925).
Jean d'Alayer, Paris (acquired from the above, 1949 and until at least 1952).
Sam Salz, New York.
Mr. Henry Ford II, Detroit, Palm Beach and London (probably acquired from the above, by circa 1957), and by descent.
Literature
(possibly) A. de Calonne, "L'art contre nature" in Le Soleil, 23 June 1889.
G. Geffroy, Claude Monet–sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre, Paris, 1922, p. 118.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1979, vol. II, p. 192, no. 1071 (illustrated, p. 193).
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, supplément aux peintures, dessins, pastels, Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, p. 44, no. 1071.
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. III, p. 405, no. 1071 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Paris, Galeries Georges Petit, Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, June-August 1889, p. 38, no. 94 (titled Maison de jardinier; Hollande).
New York, Howard Young Galleries, Paintings of the Estate of the Late Potter Palmer of Chicago, October 1922, no. 7.
Boston, Doll and Richards Galleries, Selected Paintings by Modern French Masters, February-March 1925, no. 8.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Claude Monet, January 1928, no. 50.
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Claude Monet, Exposition rétrospective, 1931, p. 35, no. 16.
Paris, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Monet, June-July 1952, p. 61, no. 51.
City Art Museum of St. Louis and The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Claude Monet: A Loan Exhibition, September-December 1957, p. 26, no. 63 (illustrated).
Madrid, Museo Español de Arte Contemporaneo, Claude Monet, April-June 1986, pp. 308 and 481, no. 58 (illustrated in color, p. 309; illustrated again, p. 481).
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Monet in Holland, October 1986-January 1987, p. 171, no. 39 (illustrated in color; titled Bulb fields at Sassenheim).

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Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis

Lot Essay

On the 27th of April 1886, Claude Monet left Paris on the late train bound for Holland, following an invitation from the Baron d’Estournelles de Constant, First Secretary to the Ambassador of the French Legation at The Hague and a future Nobel Laureate. The Baron was a keen admirer of Monet’s painting, and had invited the artist north with the specific intention of introducing him to the riotous displays of color that marked the blooming of the country’s famous tulip fields. According to the artist, the Baron was a new acquaintance, and the pair had been introduced by a mutual friend. Though the sojourn was short, lasting just over a week, Monet produced five paintings of the flower fields in full bloom (Wildenstein, nos. 1067-1071), focusing his attentions on the area known as Sassenheim along the southern edge of the tulip-growing region. Of this small series of works, Champ de tulipes près de Leyde is the last painting to remain in private hands—the other four are held in important international museum collections, from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, to the Stedelijk in Amsterdam, the Musée Marmottan-Monet in Paris and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Such journeys abroad were a common practice for Monet during the 1880s, with the artist often leaving his home in Giverny for weeks at a time, embarking on painting campaigns that took him to the Normandy coast, the Italian Riviera, and to the island of Belle-Île. Looking back on this period of his career, the artist explained the reasons behind his great urge to travel: “I felt the need, in order to widen my field of observation and to refresh my vision in front of new sights, to take myself away for a while from the area where I was living, and to make some trips lasting several weeks in Normandy, Brittany and elsewhere. It was the opportunity for relaxation and renewal. I left with no preconceived itinerary, no schedule mapped out in advance. Wherever I found nature inviting, I stopped” (quoted in J. House, Monet: Nature into Art, London, 1986, p. 21). The trip to The Hague, though brief, fulfilled his desire for new motifs—though the 1886 trip marked the third time Monet had visited Holland, following a four month stay in Zaandam during the summer of 1871 and a visit to Amsterdam in 1874, this was the first time the artist had attempted to paint the country’s annual tulip display. Writing to Théodore Duret on April 30 from The Hague, Monet described the “wide fields in full bloom” whose beauty was so pure and hues so sparkling, that it was enough “to drive the poor painter mad” (Letter to Théodore Duret, April 30 1886; reproduced in D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1979, vol. II, p. 274).
Champ de tulipes près de Leyde is one of a pair of compositions the artist created at the beginning of his sojourn (the other was À Sassenheim près de Haarlem, champ de tulipes, Wildenstein, no. 1070). While both focus on the lush tulip fields and picturesque house owned by a local market gardener, they offer subtly different viewpoints of the same scene, hinting at Monet’s bourgeoning interest in working in series. In the present composition, the artist captures the scene on a wild, blustery day, as large, cumulus clouds scud across the sky, and the few trees along the horizon-line bow under the force of the buffeting wind. Moving closer to the small homestead, the artist cuts out the canal seen in the foreground of À Sassenheim près de Haarlem, champ de tulipes and instead focuses our attention on the richly variegated grass and foliage that fills the field. Executed in an array of sumptuous, overlapping strokes of pigment, this section of the composition is filled with a bold sense of movement as the wind whips through the landscape, each brushstroke evoking its great elemental power. Perhaps the most dramatic difference though, lies in the disappearance of vast swathes of blooms from the field—recently cut and the flowers harvested, the field returns once again to a sea of greens, delicate lilacs and pinks, no longer dramatically transformed by the presence of the colorful blossoms.
Nevertheless, a section of tulips remains visible in the middle-distance, their bright colors and dancing forms captured in a stream of heavily impastoed, vibrantly hued paint. As his letter to Duret reveals, Monet had been deeply concerned that modern pigments would be unable to convey the explosive, glowing hues the tulips brought to the landscape: “It is impossible to reproduce [the effect] with our weak colors,” he lamented (ibid.). In Champ de tulipes près de Leyde, Monet rises to this coloristic challenge by apparently squeezing the pigment straight from the tube on to the canvas, rendering the tulips in thick, parallel strokes of brilliant red, yellow, sky blue, violet, and green. Nestled alongside one another, their forms weaving in and out in a complex dance of the brush, the result is a boldly abstract play of color that pushes the boundaries of Monet’s art to new, dynamic heights. Indeed, the painting can be seen as a showcase for the daring, experimental side of the artist’s painterly style at this time, as he delicately balanced abstraction with representation to not only evoke the presence of intangible elements, such as light, the passage of time, and atmosphere, but also to champion the continued importance and dynamism of Impressionism itself.
While no doubt begun en plein air, directly before the motif, the thickness of the impasto in Champ de tulipes près de Leyde suggests the painting was completed following Monet’s return to France, as the dynamic surface would not have had sufficient time to dry during the short stay in Holland. It was subsequently acquired by Monet’s host in The Hague, Baron d’Estournelles de Constant, though whether or not this was a gift from the artist or a purchase made through Monet’s dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, remains unclear. The painting was later purchased from the Baron by Mrs. Potter Palmer of Chicago, an important promoter of Impressionism in America and an avid collector of Monet’s work, who owned over ninety paintings by the artist during her life.
Some years later, Champ de tulipes près de Leyde entered the collection of Henry Ford II of the legendary Ford Motor Company family. Collecting art had been a part of the Ford family for many generations prior, and Henry Ford II was no exception. Beginning in the 1940s, over the course of two decades, Ford acquired an extensive art collection, spanning Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, to design and furniture. A number of pieces from Ford’s collection, which included other seminal works such as Paul Cézanne’s Paysan en blouse bleue (circa 1897, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth) and Pablo Picasso’s Le verre dabsinthe (1914, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) are now housed in museum collections across America and beyond.

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