CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
7 More
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF PAUL BULOVA GUILDEN
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)

Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume

Details
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume
signed and dated 'Claude Monet 1904' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 39 5/8 in. (65.2 x 100.7 cm.)
Painted in 1899-1904
Provenance
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist on 30 October 1905.
Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York, by whom acquired from the above in November 1905.
Mrs A. Stern, by whom acquired from the above on 23 December 1905.
Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 3 April 1919.
Adolph Lewisohn, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 10 June 1919, and thence by descent; his estate sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 16 May 1939, lot 261.
M. Knoedler & Co., New York (no. A2155), by whom acquired at the above sale.
D.P. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio, by whom acquired from the above on 16 May 1941.
M. Knoedler & Co., New York (no. A4041), by whom acquired from the above on 14 December 1948.
Arde Bulova, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 3 June 1951 and thence by descent.
Literature
Letter from Claude Monet to Durand-Ruel, 20 October 1905.
Letter from Claude Monet to Durand-Ruel, 26 October 1905.
Letter from Durand-Ruel to Adolph Lewisohn, 17 June 1919.
‘La peinture impressionniste, Claude Monet, 1840 à nos jours’, in France-Amérique, July 1919 (illustrated).
S. Bourgeois, The Adolph Lewisohn Collection of Modern French Paintings and Sculptures, New York, 1928, pp. VIII & 81 (illustrated p. 80).
L. Venturi, Les archives de l'Impressionnisme, vol. I, Paris, 1939, pp. 404-405.
O. Reuterswärd, Monet, En konstnärshistorik, Stockholm, 1948, p. 287.
G. Seiberling, Monet's Series, New York, 1981, no. 33, p. 374.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Peintures 1899-1926, Lausanne & Paris, 1985, no. 1582, pp. 178, 369 & 431 (illustrated p. 179).
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. III, Cologne, 1996, no. 1582, p. 692 (illustrated p. 691).
Exhibited
Boston, Brooks Reed Gallery, Tableaux Durand-Ruel, October - November 1918.
New York, Durand-Ruel Gallery, Recently Imported Works by Monet, May 1919, no. 6, n.p.
New York, Reinhardt Galleries, Loan Exhibition of Paintings from El Greco and Rembrandt to Cezanne and Matisse, January - February 1927, no. 21, n.p. (illustrated n.p.).
Basel, Kunstmuseum, on loan, 2012-2022.
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Lot Essay

Depicting the Thames through an effervescent, sunlit haze, Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume is a key painting from Claude Monet’s monumental, landmark series known as the Vues du Londres (Views of London). Numbering almost a hundred canvases in total, the artist had begun this grand project during the opening years of the twentieth century, focusing on the play of light across the Thames through three principal subjects – Charing Cross Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, and Waterloo Bridge. In contrast to the bustling modernity of the Charing Cross paintings and the solemn grandeur of the Houses of Parliament compositions, Monet’s views of Waterloo Bridge stand as pure meditations on colour, light, and atmosphere, evocatively capturing the shifting character of the famous bridge under a series of different conditions. Comprising over forty views, each subtly different from the next, many of the Waterloo Bridge paintings are now held in renowned museum collections across the world, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Kunsthalle, Hamburg and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

The idea of a series of paintings set in London had been percolating in Monet’s mind for a number of years – ‘When you come through Paris you can advise me on what the chances could be for me in coming to spend several weeks in London where I could paint some aspects of the Thames,’ the artist had written to the critic Théodore Duret in 1880 (quoted in G. Seiberling, Monet in London, exh. cat., Atlanta, 1988, p. 35). Seven years later, a brief trip to the English capital allowed him the opportunity to admire his friend James McNeill Whistler’s poetic Nocturnes series, which transformed the twilit and nocturnal fog-laden skies above the Thames at Chelsea and Battersea into enigmatic, evocative visions of the city. These paintings left a powerful impression on Monet, and by the beginning of the 1890s his own portrayal of the English capital seemed inevitable, with Camille Pissarro proclaiming, ‘Everyone is awaiting with impatience his series of London impressions’ (quoted in ibid., p. 37). However, it was not until 1899 that the artist returned to the city for an extended stay, accompanied by his wife, Alice Hoschedé and her daughter, Germaine. This visit would mark the first of a trio of important painting campaigns the artist undertook in London over the course of two years, during which the Vues du Londres were born.

Among the most ambitious of Monet’s series, which would continuously challenge his painterly skills and push his Impressionist vision to new heights, the Vues du Londres represented something of a shift in direction for the artist. His most recent work had focused largely on bucolic views of the French countryside, from his serene meditations of morning light on the Seine, to the rhythmic patterns of Poplar trees along the banks of the river Epte, and the iconic profiles of the Meules or haystacks that were a common sight in the landscape surrounding his home at Giverny. Returning to the bustling life of the metropolis, a subject he had not engaged with in such an extensive manner since his acclaimed paintings of the Gare Saint Lazare almost two decades previously, Monet immersed himself in the modernity of the London cityscape. The artist had long held British culture in high esteem – he had a traditional English breakfast every morning at Giverny, wore suits of English wool made to order, and had sent his oldest son Michel across the Channel in order to study the language. However, the lure of London lay primarily in its dramatic, everchanging atmosphere, the enthralling combination of smoke, fog, light and colour that transformed the city’s monuments and architecture from one moment to the next.

The artist and his family installed themselves in the celebrated Savoy Hotel, set on the banks of the Thames just behind the Strand, settling in a suite of rooms on the 6th floor with a balcony that boasted a breath-taking panorama of the river below. Looking to the right, Monet would have seen the Houses of Parliament rising impressively beyond the iron structure of Charing Cross railway bridge; to the left, the elegant arches of Waterloo Bridge framed by a plethora of factory chimneys complete with bellowing plumes of smoke that lined the south banks of the river eastwards into the City and beyond. Bathed in the pale autumn sun diffused through a dense atmosphere of fog and mist, the cityscape became a romantic, almost mystical environment that shifted and changed before the artist’s eye. Indeed, a promotional brochure for the Savoy, published at the turn of the century, boasted not only of its luxuriously appointed rooms, but also of the smoky, vaporous views of the Thames that it offered. Thrilled with his set-up, Monet quickly converted one of the hotel’s rooms into a studio, leaving his family to sightsee, while he explored the artistic potential of his surroundings.

In February 1900 Monet returned to London with the sole purpose of creating more paintings, remaining in the capital until April. Once again, the artist was captivated. ‘I don’t need to tell you that I work like a madman,’ he wrote to his stepdaughter Germaine during the sojourn, ‘and that’s the right term, as you know, and if it weren’t for my evenings out and dinners in town, which are rather frequent, I would become stupefied with it, not being able to stop myself from looking at my canvases and thinking about them without stopping’ (D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1985, vol. IV, letter 1528). He quickly established a daily painting routine: in the morning and early afternoon, he worked from the Savoy on views of Charing Cross and Waterloo Bridge. As the day drew on, and the low winter sun moved westwards, Monet crossed the river and made his way to St. Thomas’s Hospital, where he depicted the third of his trio of London motifs, the Houses of Parliament. He would work here for the rest of the day, capturing the Neo-Gothic palace bathed in late-afternoon light.

As a result of London’s distinctive and unpredictable climate, Monet had to work on multiple canvases at a time, each one capturing a different effet, as he moved from painting to painting to record the spectacular scene as it transformed before his eyes. The slightest breath of wind over the river could modify the scene in a matter of seconds, causing a shift in the density of the mist or fog, filtering or blotting out the light, changing its quality from a warm, refractive haze to a thick, opaque blanket. In several letters from his London visits, Monet signs off abruptly, leaving his correspondence in order to capture a particular effect before it disappeared: ‘I have to go,’ he explained in one letter to his wife Alice, ‘the effect will not wait’ (ibid., letter 1521). On 1 March 1900, he wrote that he had forty-four canvases on the go (ibid., letter 1521); eighteen days later, ‘something like sixty-five paintings covered with colours’ (ibid., letter 1532). At the end of the month, he said he would be returning to Giverny with a total of eighty paintings (ibid., letter 1543). This ambitious, complex, working process was witnessed first-hand by John Singer Sargent who upon visiting Monet at the Savoy was surprised to find him desperately searching through a large stack of canvases as he sought to find the one that most closely aligned to the current conditions (P.H. Tucker, Monet in the 20th Century, exh. cat., Boston, 2000, p. 27).

Similarly, Gustave Geffroy marvelled at the acute sensitivity of Monet’s vision, his ability to trace the subtlest of changes in the weather, which was on full display during a visit to the artist at the Savoy: ‘When Claude Monet was working on his views of the Thames in 1900, Clemenceau and I went to visit him… In front of us the waves of the Thames swelled, almost invisible in the fog: trains crossed by each other on Charing Cross Bridge, omnibuses streamed across Waterloo Bridge, smoke was unfurled in vague arabesques which soon vanished into the thick and pallid infinity. It was an awe-inspiring, solemn and gloomy spectacle, an abyss from which a rumble emerged. One could believe that everything was about to vanish, to disappear into colourless obscurity… Suddenly Claude Monet seized his palette and brushes. “The sun has returned,” he said, but at that moment he was the only one who knew it… Little by little, things became brighter and began to glow and it was delightful to see, feebly illuminated by an invisible sun as if by an ancient star, this grandiose landscape which began to reveal its secrets…’ (quoted in K. Lochnan, ed., Turner, Whistler, Monet, exh. cat., London, 2004, pp. 192-193).

While Monet may have had the work of his close friend Whistler in mind in his initial plans for the London series, by choosing the Thames as his primary subject he was also engaging directly with the legacy of one of the greatest landscape artists in the history of the genre – J.M.W. Turner. Having studied Turner’s work during his extended sojourn in London during the 1870s, Monet continued to speak admiringly of his work years later, commenting specifically on his 1844 composition Rain, Steam and Speed: The Great Western Railroad, and the extraordinary effects of colour, light and atmosphere he conjured. As Paul Hayes Tucker has noted, with the Vues du Londres, ‘Monet was ultimately doing battle with Turner. No one could paint atmospheric effects in England without having Turner as a point of comparison… Few landscape painters in the history of art had been as inventive or as passionate, or had captured nature’s elusive ways with as much power and poetry… Turner therefore was a soulmate, a guide and a special challenge for Monet’ (Monet in the 90s: The Series Paintings, exh. cat., Boston, 1989, pp. 266-267).

In January 1901, Monet departed once more for London, hoping to complete what was by now the largest series of interconnected works he had ever created. He worked much as he had done the years prior, though this time he initially favoured Waterloo Bridge over Charing Cross Bridge. ‘Since I have been here, besides the pastels,’ he wrote to Alice at the beginning of February, ‘I have only worked on Waterloo Bridge, about ten canvases. In this way I have a smaller number of canvases to look over, and it’s going better, but I will be very glad when I have some almost done’ (in D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1985, letter 1595). Waterloo Bridge was a relatively recent addition to London’s infrastructure. Described by sculptor Antonio Canova as ‘the noblest bridge in the world… alone worth coming from Rome to London to see,’ it was an elegant, classically detailed bridge for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, composed of nine arches decorated with Doric columns and topped by an entablature (quoted exh. cat., op. cit., 1988, p. 49). Opening to great fanfare in 1817, it connected the wealthy centre of the city with the industrial factories and wharfs of the south bank, and offered Monet a dynamic compositional motif, alive with the hum and movement of the metropolis.

Monet achieved a remarkable variety in his views of Waterloo Bridge (Wildenstein, nos. 1555-1595), exploring the scene through a subtly shifting range of colours, from luminous blues to delicately-hued violets and soft greens, tracing the effects of the notoriously capricious weather conditions as they shifted and changed. For an artist whose life had been spent in the pursuit of capturing the transitory effects of weather on the landscape in painterly form, these unpredictable, often fast moving meteorological effects by turn beguiled, thrilled, infuriated and disheartened Monet – at one point he believed he was in a place that simply refused to submit to his Impressionist technique. ‘I can’t tell you about this fantastic day,’ he wrote to Alice in February 1901. ‘What marvellous things, but only lasting five minutes, it’s enough to drive you crazy. No, there’s no land more extraordinary for a painter’ (in D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1985, letter 1593).

In Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume Monet records an early morning view, choosing the moments in which the bright light of the rising sun breaks through the haze, sending rippling golden reflections dancing across the surface of the water. Such scenes were among the artist’s favourites, transforming the view with spectacular speed – in a letter from February 1901, Monet described one such morning in evocative detail: ‘the sun rose… and was dazzling… The Thames was all gold. God it was beautiful, so fine that I began to work in a frenzy, following the sun and its reflections on the water… Thanks to the smoke, a haze descended’ (ibid., letter 1593).

Here, sunlight breaks through from the East in an great burst of golden pigment, infusing the entire scene with a new warmth and bright luminosity. Delineated in richly variegated tones of blue, Waterloo Bridge spans the entire width of the canvas, anchoring the composition, its solid sense of monumentality a striking counterpoint to the otherwise intangible elements of the scene. Short, flickering brushstrokes indicate the busy flow of traffic that crosses the bridge, while below, a single boat floats smoothly beneath the archways, in a contrasting flow of movement. The entire river is bathed in a soft layer of mist that blurs the boundaries between water, sky and land, with the far bank almost disappearing entirely from view, the two towering chimneys the only indication of the bustling industry and infrastructure that lined the river during this time. Captured in a flickering network of deft brushstrokes ranging from soft lilacs to powdery blues, pale pinks to bright golden yellows, Monet heightens the feeling of the softly enveloping haze of the title through an intricate play of opacity and translucency, weaving together layers of colour that cascade over one another in a complex web of brushwork.

After the 1901 sojourn in London, Monet decided to remain at his home in Giverny to complete the grand series, rather than return to the Savoy to finish his London views. ‘[England] is not a country where one can finish anything on the spot,’ he concluded (ibid., letter 1616). By this time he had decided to work on the canvases as a single unified whole, revisiting each canvas and considering them in tandem with one another, in an attempt to achieve an overall harmony of vision within the series. ‘I’m not in London unless in thought, working steadily on my canvases,’ he wrote to Paul Durand-Ruel in 1903. ‘I cannot send you a single canvas… because, for the work I am doing, it is indispensable to have all of them before my eyes, and to tell the truth not a single one is definitively finished’ (quoted in op. cit., 1988, p. 80). Monet worked intensively on the Vues du Londres for over three years, working from memory to complete the compositions, transforming them into the poetic meditations on light, time and the transitory effects of nature we know today.

The series made their public debut in a widely acclaimed exhibition at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in May 1904, where thirty-seven views were shown alongside one another. Durand-Ruel, anticipating the popularity of the series, purchased a number of compositions in advance of the opening. Considering the compositions en masse, Octave Mirabeau eloquently described the sense of unity and variety at the heart of the series: ‘A single theme in these canvases, single and yet different: the Thames. Smoke and fog; forms, architectural masses, perspectives, a whole deaf and rumbling city in the fog, fog itself; the struggle of light and all the phases of that struggle; the sun prisoner of the mists, or piercing, in decomposed rays, the coloured, radiant, swarming depths of the atmosphere; the multiple drama, endlessly changing and subtly varied, sombre or enchanting, agonising, delightful, florid, tremendous, or reflections on the waters of the Thames’ (quoted in R. Gordon and A. Forge, Monet, New York, 1983, p. 187).

Following the success of the exhibition, Durand-Ruel purchased a second group of the Vues du Londres from the artist in 1905, including Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume. The painting sold almost immediately to a Mrs. A. Stern, through the New York branch of the Durand-Ruel gallery, with whom it remained until 1919. American collectors were among the most active and enthusiastic purchasers of Monet’s work at this time, and by 1920 almost half of the Waterloo Bridge compositions had made the journey across the Atlantic. The painting was subsequently purchased by Adolph Lewisohn, an investment banker, mining magnate and philanthropist in New York, whose renowned art collection included numerous masterpieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, such as Edouard Manet’s Les Bulles de savon (1867; Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon), Vincent van Gogh’s L’Arlésienne (1888-89; The Metropolitan Museum, New York), Paul Gauguin’s Ia Orana Maria (1891; The Metropolitan Museum, New York) and Pierre Auguste Renoir’s Les Canotiers à Chatou (1879; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume remained with Lewisohn until his death, after which time it was purchased by the D.P. Allen Memorial Art Museum, at Oberlin College in Ohio.

The painting was purchased in 1951 by Arde Bulova, of the renowned Bulova Watch Company, which had been founded by his father Joseph Bulova, a Czech émigré living in New York in 1875. Leaving his position at Tiffany & Co., Joseph set out on his own, opening his eponymous shop in Manhattan where he sold watches and clocks of unrivalled quality for affordable prices. The company rapidly expanded during the early twentieth century, and quickly became known for their artistry, innovative designs and novel advertising strategies, which included presenting the first commercial advert ever broadcast on American television in 1941. Joseph was succeeded in the business by Arde, who introduced the standardization of parts, a revolutionary move at the time, and stewarded the company to new heights of success, making them an industry leader. Arde was also an important advocate for Veterans following the end of the Second World War, and founded a school dedicated to training seriously injured and disabled soldiers in the art of watch-making upon their return home.

Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume was bought by Arde, who had a keen eye for masterworks from an artist’s oeuvre – among his other acquisitions was Constantin Brancusi’s elegant marble sculpture La muse (1912; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York). The painting was subsequently passed down through the Bulova family to Arde’s nephew, Paul Bulova Guilden, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and dedicated supporter of the arts throughout his life. A graduate of MIT, Guilden had initially trained as an apprentice watchmaker in his 20s, before joining the United States Army, serving during the Korean War. Upon his return home, Paul spent several years working with Bill Lear in the early days of Learjet, where his love for aviation led him on a number of adventures, including flying solo across the Atlantic to deliver aircraft to customers in Europe and Africa. He later took up the role of Chairman at the legendary John B. Stetson Company, following in his father’s footsteps, a position he would hold for a number of decades. Renowned for his spirit of adventure and deep love of the arts, Paul continued the Bulova family legacy of philanthropy, leading the Bulova Stetson Fund for thirty years, which provides support to non-profit organisations that help people with disabilities, veterans, animal welfare, education, and the arts.



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