CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN COLLECTION
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)

L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil

Details
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil
signed 'Claude Monet' (lower left)
oil on canvas
23 3⁄4 x 31 1⁄2 in. (60.3 x 80.2 cm.)
Painted in Argenteuil in 1876
Provenance
Frédéric Bonner, New York; sale, American Art Association, New York, 10 April 1900, lot 64.
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired at the above sale).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, January 1928).
Alice Halphen, Paris (acquired from the above, 19 January 1928).
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 15 June 1938, lot 78.
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired at the above sale).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, August 1939).
Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London (acquired from the above, 27 May 1947).
Sir and Lady Stephenson Kent, London (by 1957); sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 18 March 1959, lot 8.
Private collection, Geneva (acquired at the above sale); sale, Sotheby's, London, 19 June 2006, lot 22.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
J. Fayard, "Paris a lutté hier contre Londres et New York" and M. Josse "En 19 minutes, 12 peintures de la collection Lady Kent adjugées 97.400.000 fr" in Le Figaro, 19 March 1959, p. 12.
M. Sauvel, "Les faits de la vie" in L'Intransigeant, 20 March 1959, p. 9 (illustrated in situ at the 1959 sale).
R. Wilhelm, "282 millions d'enchères pour des tableaux modernes à la Galerie Charpentier" in France Soir, 20 March 1959, p. 6.
L.R. Bortolat, L'opera completa di Claude Monet, Milan, 1966, p. 95, no. 91 (illustrated; dated 1874).
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Impressions, Lausanne, 1967, p. 21 (illustrated in color; titled La Seine à Argenteuil and dated circa 1874).
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1979, vol. I, p. 284, no. 397 (illustrated, p. 285).
L.R. Bortolat and J. Bailly-Herzberg, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Monet, Paris, 1981, p. 97, no. 132 (illustrated).
P.H. Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven, 1982, pp. 156, 158 and 169 (illustrated, fig. 132; titled Houses under the Trees).
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, pp. 162-163, no. 397 (illustrated, p. 163).
Exhibited
New York, Pratt Institute, February-March 1903.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Claude Monet, January 1928, no. 17.
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., Selected Paintings of All Periods by Claude Monet, April-May 1939, no. 3 (illustrated; titled Argenteuil).
Edinburg, Royal Scottish Academy and London, The Tate Gallery, Claude Monet, August-November 1957, p. 48, no. 47 (illustrated, pl. 18h; titled Argenteuil).
Geneva, Musée de l'Athénée, De l'impressionnisme à l'école de Paris, July-September 1960, no. 55.
Lausanne, Palais de Beaulieu, Chefs-d'oeuvre des collections suisses de Manet à Picasso, May-October 1964, no. 40 (illustrated; titled Argenteuil).
Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Chefs-d'oeuvre des collections suisses de Manet à Picasso, May-October 1967, no. 35 (illustrated; titled Argenteuil).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art and Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, The Impressionists at Argenteuil, May-December 2000, p. 136, no. 37 (illustrated in color, p. 137).
The Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, Claude Monet, July-September 2001, p. 52, no. 11 (illustrated in color, p. 53).
London, National Gallery, Monet & Architecture, April-July 2018, p. 129, no. 123 (illustrated in color; detail illustrated in color, pp. 130-131).
Special notice

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Lot Essay

Monet painted L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil in the spring of 1876, at the height of the Impressionist movement. In this work, Monet recorded his impressions of color and light upon both water and air, the ephemeral visual effects that would come to define his oeuvre. This canvas depicts two large houses situated along the Seine in Monet’s village of Argenteuil—one of the most iconic and frequently-depicted landscapes painted by Monet and his fellow Impressionists in the pivotal decade of the 1870s. The two elegant country homes are dwarfed by a cluster of trees, thick with fresh green foliage. The hour is twilight; Monet used horizontal strokes of pink, creamy yellow, and soft mossy green against the bright blue sky to represent the glow of the setting of the sun. Deep blue shadows in the trees, meanwhile, hint at the night to come. The scene is one of quiet serenity, emphasizing the harmony between man and nature in this idyllic Parisian suburb.
The apparent simplicity of the subject of L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil is belied by its complex pictorial structure. On the surface of the placid Seine, Monet painted the mirror image of the aforementioned houses and trees—juxtaposing the real, solid world with its iridescent reflection. The distant bank is separated from its reflection by a strip of land, along which a few minuscule figures stroll; this is the Argenteuil promenade, a simple walkway parallel to the river. Monet has framed this view of the Seine with a small tree to the left, the nascent green leaves of which are evoked with a flurry of raw brushstrokes; that tree is echoed across the bank with a larger clump of trees on the right side of the canvas, forming a verdant frame to the composition.
Monet observed this scene from the opposite bank, in a village known as Petit Gennevilliers. The artist would have installed his canvas facing Argenteuil, setting the wooden legs of his easel into the wet, grassy slope alongside the river. From this vantage point, the viewer is fully integrated into the landscape. As Paul Hayes Tucker has written of Monet’s early landscape paintings at Argenteuil, “One moves effortlessly through the picture; the descending line of trees and the converging promenade and riverbank invite one in, while the graciously paced series of horizontal elements lure one gently left and right... From these kinds of perfectly negotiated relationships, it seems that Monet had found an ideal place to live and work” (Claude Monet: Life and Art, New Haven, 1995, p. 62).
By 1876, Monet remained in Argenteuil for nearly five years; he and his wife and children first moved there in December 1871, after the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War. The Monet family resided near the train station, which connected the village to Paris via the Gare Saint Lazare (Monet would later paint a series dedicated to that urban train station). The swath of the river in L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil has been identified as the southwestern edge of Argenteuil, downstream of the train station. Tucker has noted that the commodious dwellings depicted in the present work were much larger than the modest home and garden rented by the Monet family; “For Monet, as for most of his Parisian bourgeois contemporaries, an estate such as the one in [L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil] would have been unattainable” (Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven, 1982, p. 158). His painting was, in that sense, an aspirational fantasy—which the artist would later realize in establishing his own country home in Giverny.
Monet was enormously productive during his early years at Argenteuil, and was deeply inspired by his immediate surroundings. To the second Impressionist exhibition in March-April 1876, for example, Monet submitted eighteen works, the vast majority of which depicted the Argenteuil landscape. Unlike Monet’s many other canvases painted at Argenteuil, however, L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil depicts no sailboats, bridges or railroads. Monet also artfully eliminated the commercial structures that had been recently built in this part of the river: a saw mill, tannery, brewery, iron works, loading docks, warehouses, and other factories among them. Monet’s quiet, peaceful painting intentionally suppressed this modern infrastructure, which had been built to accommodate Argenteuil’s local laborers, suburban commuters, bourgeois boaters, and wealthy Parisians in pursuit of nature. This landscape had in fact been transformed by this influx of recreational and commercial energy; as Louis Barron observed in 1886, “From one bank of the Seine to the other, one passes suddenly from the worn suburb to the civilized countryside….On one side, flat fields, factories, earth without shadows; on the other, stylish villas, luxurious gardens, orchards, and even trees at liberty, bushes that have not yet been imprisoned” (quoted in R. Herbert, Impressionism: Art, Leisure and Parisian Society, New Haven, 1988, p. 195).
Several of Monet’s contemporaries visited him in Argenteuil, and painted their own visions of this evolving landscape, as well as also capturing the artist at work en plein air. Monet’s Impressionist colleague, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, painted the artist standing before an easel set up in his own flowering garden (1873, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford). Edouard Manet, meanwhile, depicted Monet aboard his studio boat, which enabled him to paint new angles and vantage points while floating on the Seine (1874, Neue Pinakothek, Munich). Monet was preoccupied with the relationship between land and water. After he moved to Giverny the following decade, for example, he painted a series devoted to Poplar trees and their reflection in the river below. L’arbre en boule, Argenteuil represents the artist’s early interest in watery reflections, and the variable dynamics of light and shadow in nature.
L'arbre en boule, Argenteuil has an extensive exhibition history, beginning in the artist’s lifetime. The New York branch of the Durand-Ruel Galleries—Monet’s primary dealer—acquired this painting from the 1900 sale of the American collector Frédéric Bonner. Durand-Ruel subsequently lent this work to a 1903 exhibition at the Pratt Institute. After passing through the collection of the philanthropist Alice Halphen, who was married to the French Jewish composer Fernand, the work belonged to Sir Stephenson Kent and Lady Kent, who lent the canvas to a monographic show at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and the Tate Gallery in London in 1957. This painting also appeared in the iconic exhibition, The Impressionists at Argenteuil (2000), at The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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