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)

Deux femmes en barque

CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
Deux femmes en barque
stamped with signature 'Claude Monet' (Lugt 1819b; lower right); stamped with signature again 'Claude Monet' (Lugt 1819b; on the reverse)
oil on canvas
21 x 28 1/2 in. (53.3 x 72.4 cm.)
Painted in Giverny in 1887
Marthe Hoschedé and Theodore Earl Butler, Giverny (acquired from the artist).
James Butler, Paris (by descent from the above).
Schoneman Galleries, Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, circa 1966.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1979, vol. III, p. 96, no. 1150 (illustrated, p. 97).
D. Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. III, p. 435, no. 1150 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

In 1883, Monet acquired a property in Giverny, a small village in his native Normandy. Over the next several decades, the artist transformed the isolated, overgrown grounds that surrounded his new home into a lush private paradise, replete with overflowing flowerbeds, sweeping willow trees, wisteria vines, and an infamous waterlily pond. This curated gardenscape would ultimately inspire some of the artist’s most infamous works in the second half of his career. However, in 1887—the year he painted Deux femmes en barque—that elaborate landscape design remained a distant dream, frustrated by the artist’s own constant financial struggles. Still, the artist was thoroughly enchanted by the natural landscape surrounding Giverny, which inspired several paintings throughout the 1880s and early 1890s.
Monet shared his home in Giverny with his large blended family: his partner and future wife, Alice Hoschedé, as well as their respective children, eight in total, who occasionally served as models for his work. Deux femmes en barque, for example, depicts Alice with her daughter, Marthe, then about 23 years old, seated in a small wooden rowboat. Alice and Marthe are pictured wearing similar white day dresses and straw hats adorned with silk flowers; Alice, sitting perfectly erect, turns to meet the artist’s gaze, while Marthe is slightly hunched, fully absorbed with the book in her lap. (A preparatory study now in the Musée Marmottan Monet Paris shows that Monet slightly adjusted the poses of the two figures before executing the present painting). According to Daniel Wildenstein, the author of the Monet catalogue raisonné, Marthe had a difficult relationship with the artist, for whom her mother had left her father when Marthe was only a child. By adulthood, however, Marthe reconciled with her stepfather; she continued to live near him in Giverny, even after the death of her mother in 1911.
In Deux femmes en barque, Alice and Marthe float amiably atop placid water—which has been identified as either a small natural pond at Giverny, prior to its expansion into a jardin d’eau, or a tributary of the Epte River that bordered Monet’s property. The figures are fully enshrouded in the cool shadow of dense, dark green foliage surrounding the pond or river. This greenery, as well as the bow of the boat and the sitters’ straw hats, are reflected on the rippling surface of the water. Monet here simultaneously suggests the murky depths of the water as well as the aquatic plants that grew therein. Indeed, the artist had become fascinated by the formal challenge of conveying that which is above, upon, and below the surface of water; as he wrote a few years later in 1890, “I have resumed things that are impossible, water and grass waving beneath it” (D. Wildenstein, op. cit., 1996, p. 437). Monet’s obsession with complex compositions would later manifest in the nonfigurative, nearly abstract nymphéas paintings at the turn of the twentieth century.
Deux femmes en barque remained in Marthe Hoschedé’s collection for several decades. A year after the death of her oldest sister, Suzanne Hoschedé in 1899, Marthe married Suzanne’s widower, the American Impressionist painter, Theodore Earl Butler. The present work then passed by descent to James Butler, Marthe’s nephew and the son of Theodore and Suzanne. Thereafter, the work was acquired by Joan R. Linclau from the Schoneman Galleries in New York in the mid-1960s; it remained with Linclau for over sixty years, until her death in 2022.

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