CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)

Soleil couchant, temps brumeux, Pourville

CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
Soleil couchant, temps brumeux, Pourville
signed and dated 'Claude Monet 82' (lower left)
oil on canvas
24 1⁄4 x 29 1⁄4 in. (61.5 x 74.3 cm.)
Painted in 1882
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, December 1883).
Albert Spencer, New York (probably acquired from the above, 1886).
Mme A. Holtz, Paris (by descent from the above).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above).
Harris Whittemore, Naugatuck, Connecticut (acquired from the above, May 1911); Estate sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 20 May 1948, lot 180.
Emil Hirsch, Paris and New York (acquired at the above sale).
Fritz and Peter Nathan, Zurich (by September 1949).
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York (acquired from the above).
Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell Cummings, Montreal (acquired from the above, 1957); Estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, 5 November 2002, lot 17.
Private collection, California (acquired at the above sale).
Anderson Galleries, Inc., Beverly Hills (acquired from the above, 2004).
Hammer Galleries, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, February 2011.
L. Venturi, Les archives de l'Impressionnisme, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 268.
O. Reuterswärd, Monet, Stockholm, 1948, p. 284.
R.H. Hubbard, European Paintings in Canadian Collections, Toronto, 1962, vol. II, p. 155 (titled Falaises près de Pourville).
L.R. Bortolatto, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Monet, Paris, 1981, p. 104, no. 245 (illustrated).
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1979, vol. II, p. 86, no. 782 (illustrated, p. 87).
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, pp. 291-292, no. 782 (illustrated, p. 291).
New York, The American Art Galleries and The National Academy of Design, Works in Oil and Pastel by the Impressionists of Paris, April-June 1886, no. 184.
Naugatuck, Connecticut, Tuttle House, Exhibition of Paintings, 1938, no. 14.
Waterbury, Connecticut, Mattatuck Historical Society, Paintings from the Whittemore Collection, January 1941.
Baltimore Museum of Art, Contrasts in Impressionism, November-December 1942, p. 20, no. 9 (titled Cliffs near Pourville).
Baltimore Museum of Art, 1942-1948 (on extended loan).
Kunsthalle Basel, Impressionisten: Monet, Pissarro, Sisley vorläufer und zeitgenossen, September-November 1949, no. 146 (titled Küste bei Pourville).
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada Collects: European Paintings, 1860-1960, 1960, no. 210 (titled Cliffs near Pourville).
Ottawa, The National Gallery of Canada, European Paintings in Canadian Collections: Corot to Picasso, February-March 1962.
New York, Hammer Galleries, Impressionist Masters, May-August 2013, p. 26 (illustrated).


Monet’s Soleil couchant, temps brumeux, Pourville, was painted in 1882—the same year the seventh Impressionist exhibition was staged in Paris. The dramatic, limestone sea cliffs at Pourville are among the most archetypal images in Monet’s oeuvre; yet this luminous seascape also represents Monet’s increasingly bold and provocative style at a critical phase of his career as an Impressionist. In his pursuit of a brilliant sunset shrouded by mist, Monet developed a bright, radical color palette. He applied these pigments to the canvas with bold, gestural brushstrokes, invoking both atmospheric turbulence and his own thoroughly modern approach to a traditional subject.
Monet first visited Pourville, a small fishing village on the coast of Normandy in north-west France, in the early spring of 1882. He spent March and April combing the cliffs and beaches there in search of novel vantage points of the sea. Monet returned briefly to Paris in order to attend the opening of the seventh Impressionist exhibition, which had been organized by Monet’s primary dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel. Monet submitted 35 canvases to that exhibition, including a number of widely praised seascapes; as the critic Ernest Chesneau wrote in Paris-Journal, “I stop before these admirable seascapes, in which, for the first time, I see rendered—and with such extraordinary power of illusion—the upswells and long descending sighs of the ocean, the rivulets of the eddying waves, the glaucous surface of deep water, and the violet hues of the low tide above its bed of sand” (quoted in D. Wildenstein, Monet or The Triumph of Impressionism, Cologne, 1999, p. 178).
Buoyed by this praise for his vividly-colored paintings of the sea, Monet returned to Pourville with his family that summer to continue his painting campaign. He revisited the cliffs and beaches to paint several further canvases; indeed, aside from his depictions of waterlilies at Giverny at the end of his life, Monet’s excursions along the Normandy coast in 1882 represent one of the most productive stages of his career. In the present work—as in La plage à Pourville, soleil couchant (Musée Marmottan, Paris) and Plage et malaise de Pourville, effet du matin (Fuji Art Museum, Tokyo)—Monet situated his canvas on the rocky beach, oriented towards the majestic cliffs to the west. In each of these works, the Pointe de l’Ailly of the neighboring Varengeville cliffs is just visible in the distance.
Soleil couchant, temps brumeux, Pourville also depicts the ephemeral, translucent fog—formed when warm, humid air meets cold ocean water—that frequently enveloped the cliffs at Pourville. Indeed, even in the summer months, the coast of Normandy was subject to sudden changes in weather. According to Daniel Wildenstein, the summer of 1882 was a particularly moody one; the coastline was battered by winds, soaked with heavy rains, and swallowed by rolling fogs. Though initially discouraged by the weather, Monet came to embrace these variable conditions; he contained to paint the surrounding landscape under both clear, sunny skies and temps brumeux (misty weather), as in the present work.
Monet employed a range of bright colors in order to convey the hallucinatory effects of the setting sun upon the sky, cliffs and sea. The sun is represented with a swirl of blood orange paint—similar to the sun in Monet’s Impression, soleil levant (Musée Marmottan, Paris), the iconic painting that earned the Impressionists their name after the first exhibition of 1874. Tufts of pink, violet, blue and green cotton stand for clouds, while strokes of lemony yellow—nearly the color of absinthe—form the gleaming surface of the English Channel. The pale limestone face of the cliffs, meanwhile, have been cast in mauve and mossy green shadows. Monet’s critics were not all convinced by Monet’s experimental color choices, however; as Paul Labarrière wrote in 1883, “Let the devil take me if I have ever seen in nature the Veronese-green sky and the sea the color of [Monet’s] sunset at Pourville” (“Exposition de Claude Monet,” Journal des Artistes, 16 March 1883, p. 10, quoted in S. Levine, Monet, Narcissus and Self-Reflection: The Modernist Myth of the Self, Chicago, 1994, p. 35).
Monet sold the majority of his paintings of Pourville to Durand-Ruel; the dealer had visited Monet that summer in Pourville, and encouraged him in his work. The present canvas was acquired directly from the artist the year following its execution. By 1886, the year of the eighth and final Impressionist exhibition in Paris, this work had entered the collection of Albert Spencer, a precocious collector of avant-garde French art based in New York. Spencer lent the canvas to an exhibition of Impressionist oils and pastels at the National Academy of Design that same year. Soleil couchant, temps brumeux, Pourville has since appeared in a number of twentieth-century exhibitions devoted to Impressionism—at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Kunsthalle Basel and the National Gallery of Canada, among others.

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