CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
3 More
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
6 More
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)

Prairie à Giverny

CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
Prairie à Giverny
signed and dated 'Claude Monet 86' (lower left)
oil on canvas
36 ½ x 32 in. (92.7 x 81.3 cm.)
Painted in 1886
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie. and Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, May 1920).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 1922).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, 1923).
Marie-Louise d'Alayer de Costemore d'Arc (née Durand-Ruel) and Jean d'Alayer, Paris (acquired from the above, 1949); sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 16 June 1953, lot 45.
Galerie d'Art du Faubourg, Paris (July 1957).
Ludwig Neugass, New York (by 1964).
Carolyn Neugass, New York (by descent from the above, 1969); sale, William Doyle Galleries, New York, 17 May 1984, lot 79.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
L. Venturi, Les archives de l'impressionnisme, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 456, letter 393.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1979, vol. II, p. 196, no. 1081 (illustrated, p. 197) and p. 294, letter 107.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1985, vol. IV, p. 405, letter 2345.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1991, vol. V, p. 44, no. 1081.
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. III, p. 409, no. 1081 (illustrated, p. 408).

Brought to you by

Margaux Morel
Margaux Morel Associate Vice President, Specialist and Head of the Day and Works on Paper sales

Lot Essay

“My heart is always in Giverny…”
Claude Monet

This luminous depiction of a picturesque meadow was painted by Monet at his beloved home of Giverny. The artist had moved to this rural village, set on the confluence of the Seine and the Epte, some fifty miles northwest of Paris, in April 1883. He rented a pink stucco house, called Le Pressoir, which, over the years that followed, he turned into a horticultural oasis. Together with the idyllic surrounding landscape, his home would offer endless artistic inspiration for the rest of his life.
Not long after Monet and his family moved to Giverny, the artist wrote his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, “Once settled, I hope to produce masterpieces, because I like the countryside very much” (quoted in P.H. Tucker, Monet in the ‘90s: The Series Paintings, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989, pp. 14-15). He began exploring the surrounding terrain with a renewed sense of creativity. He set out with his canvases each day at dawn, walking over hills and through valleys, in marshes and meadows, among streams and poplars. He painted along the banks of the Seine, winding country roads and houses nestled into the rolling hills, as well as expansive fields. “This was the landscape he came to know most intimately,” James Wood has written, “and its accessibility made possible the extended serial treatment that is the underlying structure for the work of the entire Giverny period” (Monet’s Years at Giverny: Beyond Impressionism, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1978, p. 11).
The artist’s decision to settle at Giverny was propitious and would shape the direction of his career for the decades that followed. Not only was the ever encroaching modernization of Paris still a distant concern, this rural farming village untouched and as bucolic as it had been for centuries, but, as Daniel Wildenstein has pointed out, throughout the day, the sun’s path followed the line of hills around Giverny. As a result, in order “to paint what was reflected in the water, the movement of leaves before the light, the mist veiling the sun, a sunset or sunrise, Monet had only to follow the natural slope of the land from his house to the fields and meadows laced by water and trees. There the landscape, shimmering in the iridescent light, was constantly changing, and the hills—depending on the weather—seemed alternately purple and blue, close and far away. It was Impressionism at its purest, registered instantaneously in a natural setting that was always new and endlessly absorbing” (quoted in ibid., p. 15).
The year 1886 was particularly busy for Monet. He spent the first months of the year on the Normandy coast, in Etretat, and returned to Giverny in March. He did not stay long, however, continuing to travel both near and far, spending time in Holland, Paris, and Brittany, where he remained for three months, from June to August. Prairie à Giverny belongs to a group of works from the late summer when Monet, at home for a time, was clearly both reinvigorated and comforted by the vistas of his home. With these works, he captured the effects of light and the charm of the surrounding countryside. The present work was painted not far from the river Epte, its wooded bank seen in the background of the composition. This painting is one of three works that depict this quiet corner of rural Giverny, one of which is now housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Wildenstein, nos. 1081-1083).
With this trio of paintings, Monet captured the nuances of the gradually shifting seasons, as summer gave way gradually to fall. In Prairie à Giverny, the scene is infused by a golden light that throws the bordering trees into shadow, suggesting that he painted it at the end of the day. Monet depicted some of these statuesque trees with rich tones of crimson and deep pink, masterfully capturing the leaves on the brink of turning. Together, the pastel-hued dusky sky, the bank of cool trees, and the radiant green plane of the field in the foreground exist in perfect harmony, as Monet turned this quiet, quotidian scene into a timeless, radiant image.
Soon after he painted Prairie à Giverny, Monet set off on his travels once more. On 15 September he went to Belle-Île, where he stayed until the end of November. This rugged, dramatic coastline offered him a starkly contrasting range of motifs compared to his beloved Giverny. With the infamous debut of Georges Seurat’s pointillist masterpiece, Un dimanche d’été à l’Ile de La Grande Jatte (The Art Institute of Chicago) in the final Impressionist exhibition held earlier in the year, Monet must have felt at this time more dedicated than ever to pushing forward his distinctive form of Impressionism. Though he had refused to participate in the exhibition, “I am still an Impressionist,” he had declared, “and will always remain one” (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., 1989, p. 20). Turning from the sun-dappled quiet of a picturesque corner of the countryside to the storm-swept, uninhabitable coastline of Brittany, Monet was masterfully demonstrating, whether consciously or not, his indomitable ability to distill the essence of a landscape.

More from Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

View All
View All