CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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Property from the Collection of Fritz and Lucy Jewett
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)

La Roche Guibel, Port-Domois

CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
La Roche Guibel, Port-Domois
signed and dated 'Claude Monet 86' (lower right)
oil on canvas
26 ¼ x 32 ½ in. (66.7 x 82.5 cm.)
Painted in 1886
Galerie Georges Petit, Paris (acquired from the artist, May 1887).
Paul Aubry, Paris; Estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 10 May 1897, lot 21.
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired at the above sale).
William H. Fuller, New York (acquired from the above, 22 July 1897); Estate sale, American Art Galleries, New York, 12-13 March 1903, lot 150.
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired at the above sale).
Bertha Honoré Palmer, Chicago (acquired from the above, 1 April 1903).
Gordon and Janis Palmer, Chicago and Sarasota, Florida (by descent from the above).
Wildenstein & Co. Inc., New York (on consignment from the above, 1970).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 31 July 1978.
Letter from C. Monet to P. Durand-Ruel, 11 May 1887.
(probably) G. Geffroy, "Salon de 1887: Hors du Salon, Cl. Monet" in La Justice, vol. 8, no. 2696, 2 June 1887, pp. 1-2.
"W.H. Fuller's Monets Sold" in The Sun, vol. 70, no. 195, 14 March 1903.
"Claude Monet Exhibit Opens" in The Boston Post, 15 March 1905.
(probably) G. Geffroy, Claude Monet: Sa vie, son temps, son œuvre, Paris, 1922, p. 116.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1979, vol. II, p. 204, no. 1106 (illustrated in color, p. 53; illustrated again, p. 205); vol. III, p. 295, letter 1392.
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. III, pp. 418-419, no. 1106 (illustrated in color, p. 415).
(probably) Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 6e exposition internationale de peinture et de sculpture, May-June 1887, p. 16, no. 82.
New York, The Lotos Club, Pictures by Claude Monet, January 1899, no. 18 (titled Belle-Isle, Sunshine).
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Loan Exhibition, November 1902-January 1903, no. 111 (titled Belle Isle: Sunshine).
The Copley Society of Boston, Copley Hall, Loan Collection of Paintings by Claude Monet and Eleven Sculptures by Auguste Rodin, March 1905, p. 15, no. 17 (titled Roche Guibel, soleil, Belle-Isle).
Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, Works of Art from the Collections of the Harvard Class of 1936, June-August 1961, no. 18 (illustrated, pl. VII; dated 1886-1887 and titled Sunshine (Belle-Isle)).
Sarasota, Ringling Museum of Art, Palmer Family Collections, February-March 1963, p. 16, no. 17 (illustrated, pl. XII; titled Sunshine, Belle-Ile).
New York, Wildenstein & Co. Inc., One Hundred Years of Impressionism: A Tribute to Durand-Ruel, April-May 1970, no. 65 (illustrated; titled Belle-Ile).

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Formerly in the collection of the legendary Impressionist patron, Bertha Honoré Palmer, Claude Monet’s La Roche Guibel, Port-Domois depicts one of the artist’s most iconic motifs—the dramatic coastline of northern France. Throughout the 1880s, Monet traveled far and wide along this stretch of coast as he found evermore dramatic sites with which to push his Impressionist technique to its extreme. “You know my passion for the sea,” Monet wrote of his lifelong love of these locales, “I’m mad about it” (quoted in P.H. Tucker, Claude Monet: Life and Art, New Haven, 1995, p. 113).
In mid-September 1886, Monet traveled to Belle-Île, a rocky, storm-swept island off the coast of Brittany. The terrain there was the most dramatic that he had encountered during his multiple trips to this area of France throughout the 1880s. Unlike the coast of Etretat, which, while confronting the Channel, was composed of limestone so appeared more refined and less rugged, Belle-Île was situated on black volcanic rock, which was continuously riven away by the turbulent waters of the Atlantic. As a result, jagged coves, inlets, and monumental needle rocks had been hewn by the sea as the island ceded to the indomitable forces of nature. There, Monet found lodgings at Kervilahouen, a village of about twelve dwellings on the west side of the island, near a stretch of coastline known as “La Mer Terrible.” “It’s well-named,” Monet wrote to his companion, Alice Hoschedé. “Not a tree for ten kilometers, some rocks and wonderful grottoes; it’s sinister, diabolical, but superb” (quoted in ibid., p. 129).
Earlier in the year, the Eighth and final Impressionist exhibition had taken place. Most famously this show served as the debut for Georges Seurat’s pointillist masterpiece, Un dimanche d’été à l’Ile de La Grande Jatte (Art Institute of Chicago). Over the preceding years, many of Monet’s Impressionist contemporaries had branched out to explore other styles and subjects. In the face of Seurat’s novel technique, Monet realized that he was more or less the sole practitioner of the essential tenets of Impressionism. As a result, he realized he needed to continue to push his Impressionist approach forwards. New subjects and evermore elemental light and atmospheric conditions would enable him to achieve this. Belle-Île therefore offered the perfect setting. “Nothing could have been further from the gentility of Giverny,” Paul Hayes Tucker has written. “Nothing also could have been further from the Riviera. But like all those previous pictures as well as his self-portrait, Monet was here to push himself to one more extreme and thus to demonstrate the versatility of his maligned, but still vibrant style” (ibid.).
Painting in this locale proved to be an extraordinary challenge. Monet hired an ex-lobsterman as a porter, who fashioned a waterproof slicker to protect the artist from the elements and helped him to secure his canvas, easel, and protective parasol against violent winds. Despite such adverse conditions, Monet was captivated by the dramatic beauty of Belle-Île, writing to Alice, “It was a joy for me to see the sea in all its fury; it was like a drug, and I was so carried away that today I was devastated to see the weather calm down so quickly” (quoted in V. Russell, Monet's Landscapes, London, 2000, p. 68). Although he originally intended to stay on Belle-Île for only a fortnight, he ended up extending his trip until the end of November and bringing back to Giverny nearly forty canvases.
With a luminous palette of turquoise and blues, applied with a rich impasto, the present painting depicts La Roche Guibel, a pierced rock in the center of the bay of Port-Domois on Belle-Île. The striking formations of the land rise upwards from the choppy waters to meet a soft blue sky above. The critic Gustave Geffroy, who visited the island at the same time as Monet, described the site: “In the middle of the port, a rock riddled with holes, curved into an arch, a narrow space filled with sea spray and the violent anger of the water” (quoted in D. Wildenstein, Monet or The Triumph of Impressionism, Cologne, 1996, p. 419). Together the combination of the emerald and turquoise waters, topped in places by the gleaming foam of the turbulent sea, and the complex natural structures of the eroding coastline, all of which is illuminated by dramatic contrasts of light and shade, create a theatrical scene that exalts both Monet’s Impressionist approach as well as the untempered beauty of nature itself.
Monet painted eight views of La Roche Guibel, from different angles and under different weather conditions. The present work and three others show the rock looking north, with Port-Goulphar and the rocks of Radenec in the background (Wildenstein, nos. 1106-1109). Three other canvases in the group show the artist moving his view westwards out to sea, with the hollow of the rock largely obscured (Wildenstein, nos. 1110-1112), while another depicts the rock from the opposite direction, looking south toward Port-Domois (Wildenstein, no. 1113). A number of this series are now housed in museum collections, including Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Reims.
La Roche Guibel was one of several motifs on Belle-Île that Monet subjected to this form of systematic study, anticipating the serial practice that would become his hallmark in the next decade. Tucker has explained, “His campaign in Brittany... marked a subtle change in Monet's orientation... The paintings explore a relatively limited number of motifs and do so with an equally restricted number of compositional options. While these limitations resulted in pictures that are near replicas... they also appear to have forced him to be even more exacting in his description of natural phenomena—the action of the sea, the way the light danced upon the water, or the interplay of shadows and reflections cast by the craggy black rocks” (Monet in the '90s: The Series Paintings, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989, p. 29).
Monet returned to Giverny at the end of November, where he continued to work on his views of Belle-Île in his studio. In May 1887, he exhibited eight of these canvases, one of which was probably the present La Roche Guibel, Port-Domois, at the Sixth Annual International Exhibition held at the Galerie Georges Petit. Nearly every one of his paintings in the show was sold, and the reviews were more enthusiastic than any Monet had ever received. Joris-Karl Huysmans called Monet “the most significant landscape painter of modern times,” while Alfred de Lostalot proclaimed, “You have to admire these feverish canvases, for despite their intense color and rough touch, they are so perfectly disciplined that they easily emit a feeling for nature in an impression filled with grandeur” (quoted in ibid., pp. 29-30).
Georges Petit acquired La Roche Guibel, Port-Domois from the artist in 1887, after which it entered the collection of the Impressionist supporter, Paul Aubry. His collection was dispersed a decade later, when it was acquired by Durand-Ruel, who subsequently sold it to William H. Fuller, a friend and patron of Monet. In 1903, the painting entered the famed collection of Bertha Honoré Palmer. Bertha and her husband, Potter Palmer, who had died the year prior, had been pioneering in their support of Impressionism in the United States. The Chicago-based couple had amassed an unrivaled collection of Impressionist masterpieces, much of which would form the basis of The Art Institute of Chicago’s renowned collection.

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